Saturday, September 6, 2014

Nine Mile Canyon Needs YOUR Help!

  BLM Seeks Public Input on Recreation Management in Nine Mile Canyon

Price, Utah—The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Utah Price Field Office is seeking public comment on management in the Nine Mile Canyon Special Recreation Management Area (SRMA).  The Nine Mile Canyon SRMA, managed by the Price and Vernal Field Offices, is internationally significant for its concentration of archaeological sites and extensive rock art, and the BLM-Utah is inviting the public to provide input into the management of this unique area.

Interested members of the public are encouraged to share their ideas or to raise issues of concern, which will then be used to develop an Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Nine Mile Canyon SRMA.  The EA will identify and analyze implementation of management decisions made in the 2008 Price and Vernal Resource Management Plans and will aid in the development of a recreation area management plan for Nine Mile Canyon that will guide the management of interpretation, stewardship and recreation in the area.

During this public scoping period, which ends Oct. 3, 2014, the BLM-Utah invites the public to provide input on substantive issues and concerns relating to management of the Nine Mile Canyon SRMA.  The purpose of the public scoping process is to determine relevant issues that will influence development of the EA.  The most useful comments are those that identify issues relevant to the proposed action or contain new technical or scientific information. Comments which contain only opinions or preferences will not receive a formal response but may be considered in the BLM decision-making process.

An electronic copy of the public scoping document is available for review at:  Hard copies are also available for review at the BLM-Utah Price Field Office, 125 South 600 West, Price, Utah.  

Written comments will be accepted through Oct. 3, 2014.  Please reference “Nine Mile Canyon SRMA” when submitting comments.  Written comments may be submitted via the Environmental Notification Bulletin Board at: (search for project name “Nine Mile Canyon SRMA”).  Comments may also be submitted by mail using the following address: 

Bureau of Land Management
Price Field Office
Attn:  Ahmed Mohsen
125 South 600 West
Price, Utah 84501

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Utah Department of Environmental Quality has selected 15 mitigation projects, totaling $3,131,000, for the Willard Bay settlement with Chevron.  

The good news is that the funding is more than what was anticipated.  

Here are the funded projects.  More information available at this website.

Willard Bay Mitigation Projects

The following projects were selected from the proposals displayed in the Received Proposals section below, where the project titles are linked to the proposal content.
Applicant Name
Agency/ Organization
Project Title
Willard Bay State Park Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Permanent Decontamination Station to Prevent Quagga Mussels Infestation at Willard Bay
Lance Houser Logan City Logan River Comprehensive Plan and Phase 1 River Restoration
Mary McKinley Ogden Nature Center - Mary McKinley/Jenny Frame & Emily Martin Ogden Nature Center Wetland Restoration and Education Project
Jake Powell, Upper Weber Watershed Coordinator East Canyon Watershed Committee/Uinta Headwaters RC&D Council East Canyon Watershed Water Quality Improvement Project
Eric McCulley Laura Hansen - Jordan River Commission Leslie Kelen – Center for Documentary Expression and Arts Lower Jordan River Education Outreach, Riparian Habitat Enhancement, and River Cleanup Project
Ben Watkins Box Elder High School Bank Erosion Prevention along Channel Segments and Resulting Water Quality
Jake Powell, Upper Weber Watershed Coordinator The Weber River Partnership The Weber River Partnership Capacity and Symposium
Paul Burnett Trout Unlimited South Fork Chalk Creek Watershed Restoration
Wes Thompson PG, Principal Hydrogeologist, BIO-WEST, Inc. BIO-WEST, Inc. Willard Bay Noxious and Invasive Weed Treatment
Dave Livermore The Nature Conservancy Wings & Water Wetlands Education Initiative
Kenneth Braegger, Mayor Willard City Corporation Willard Creek Nature Park & Debris Basin Rehabilitation Project
Kent Sorenson Utah Division of Wildlife Resources / Utah Division of Parks and Recreation North Marina Handicapped Fishing Pier
Willard Bay State Park Division of Parks and Recreation Boat Launch ramp Extension, North Marina
Merritt Frey River Network Lower Jordan Flow Project
Paul Thompson/Chris Penne Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Stocking Evaluation of Wiper & Walleye at Willard Bay Reservoir

A letter to the Utah Department of Environmental Quality (Willard Bay Mitigation Projects)

Dear Emily:

I am writing to you as concerned citizen of Utah.  I write a very small-time blog called West Desert Watchdog (  I have been reviewing the proposals for the Willard Bay mitigation project on my blog and submitting my comments as a private individual.

Unfortunately, the comment period ended on May 28th.  I became aware of the opportunity to comment on May 19 due to a public radio spot and I posted a blog entry on this occasion

I am concerned that 10 days for the public to comment is not sufficient time for members of the public to review these proposals.  In general, it seems that in-house government personnel are allotted at least 30 days to review and the public given at least the same courtesy; given the scientific and technical nature of these proposals I would anticipate ate least a 60 day public review.  Personally, I was only able to go through a few of the many proposals submitted and I was only able to provide comments on two of the proposals 

Please understand that the majority of concerned Utah citizens have other full-time jobs as well as families, and the opportunity to review documents from our government takes more than a week.

Thank you for your consideration on this matter. 

PS - please note that I will be posting this to both my blog and onto social media websites such as Facebook.


Willard Bay Mitigation Project Review: Park Restroom Facility Refurbishing

The Basics:

  • Title:  Park Restroom Facility Refurbishing
  • Organization: Willard Bay State Park
  • Amount: $57,075.00
  • Link to Proposal: here

My Thoughts:
I have thought about this proposal for several days now.  I have come to the conclusion that it is a worthwhile project and one that would benefit the citizens of Utah and those that use the Great Salt Lake rivers watershed for recreation; however, I believe that it is not an appropriate use of these mitigation funds and that this project falls within the basic maintenance facility requirements of Utah State Parks. As much as I believe that this is a worthwhile project in and of itself, I do not believe mitigation funds should be used.  The Utah State Parks needs to accept responsibility - including financial responsibility - to care for its own State Parks, including basic human necessities. 

I do not fault the submitters of the grant as I believe they are perusing every available funding opportunity; rather, I fault the Utah State Legislature for not properly appropriating funding for the basic requirements of Utah's State Parks. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Willard Bay Mitigation Project Review: Utah’s Indigenous Microbial Communities as Bioremediation Tools for the Clean-up of Oil Contaminated Ecosystems

The Basics:
The Details:
"Bioremediation is the process by which biological activities rid an environment of chemical pollutants. Most commonly, bioremediation employs microbes containing enzymes able to transform and decompose the pollutant. Many ecosystems are thought to contain a natural population of microbes with the capacity to degrade hydrocarbons. For example, much of the degradation of oil released by the Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010 has been carried out by the indigenous population of oil‐degrading bacteria found naturally in the Gulf of Mexico. A primary challenge to bioremediation is that the indigenous population of microbes may not have the capacity to degrade all contaminants present, or their ability to degrade the contaminants may be hindered by the eventual lack of other resources (i.e. while there is plenty of carbon available in the oil, nitrogen or phosphorous become limiting nutrients). To overcome these obstacles, modern bioremediation requires an understanding of the degradative capacity of indigenous microbes along with an analysis of factors that can facilitate the growth of these microbes and their biotransformation of the pollutants."

The proposed research and educational activities aim to (1) evaluate the feasibility of using bioremediation as an effective strategy to cleanup oil spills in aquatic ecosystems in Utah using the unique microbial communities that inhabit our local ecosystems, and (2) integrate an educational component to ensure that the state’s educators, citizens, and scientists of tomorrow are informed about options for dealing with oil spills and related problems arising from our industrial endeavors.

Research questions:
1. How does the community composition of hydrocarbondegrading microbes vary between regions of the GSL: from freshwater Willard Bay, to the saline South Arm, to the hypersaline North Arm?
2. Exactly which hydrocarbons are degraded by microorganism in various regions of the GSL and what are the chemical products of this degradation?
3. What physical or chemical variables control rates of hydrocarbon biodegradation, and does effective hydrocarbon degradation by local microbes require the addition of a limiting nutrient?

From the proposal: 

"Camp Great Salt Lake is a week‐ long camp for high school students coordinated through Westminster College’s Great Salt Lake Institute (GSLI). The camp promotes science and environmental education using the GSL as a model system. Campers learn about native plants and wildlife, study the geochemistry and ecology of the GSL’s extreme ecosystem, and conduct lab and field experiments. We will develop additional modules specifically on oil spills and contamination of the GSL, as well as the different techniques used to clean‐up oil spills and other industrial releases. This camp specifically targets and provides scholarships for minorities, women, and other groups that are underrepresented in scientific fields to broaden participation in science by these groups and improve their achievement and retention in the STEM pipeline. Camp Great Salt Lake targets the following three populations:
  1. 1. Twenty five high school students from Salt Lake Valley public schools, with a focus on women and students from backgrounds and groups underrepresented in science and technology.
  2. 2. Undergraduate student teachers, who develop camp curriculum and help lead camp activities.
  3. 3. Public school teachers, who serve as consultants and mentor student teachers. 
Utah Department of Natural Resources
United States Geological Survey
Friends of the Great Salt Lake
My Assessment:

At about $110K, this project uses less than 5% of the total grant budget and is an efficient use of financial resources.  Plus, Westminster College offers a contribution of about $54K.  This is a relatively inexpensive project. Community involvement is very high as it will include a multi‐faceted educational experiences to high school teachers, high school students, and college students in Utah.  Funding is relatively low with a high pay-off in terms of scientific studies and community involvement.  Overall, a very good use of public funds.