The Tooele County Planning Commission learned on Feb. 15 it has only a few months to compile, review and finalize a County Resource Management Plan to meet a state requirement.
Andrea Moser, project manager and section manager with Bio-West, Inc., a Logan, Utah environmental planning service with offices in Texas, explained to planning commission members the CRMP’s purpose is to define policy, goals and objectives for managing natural resources on public lands within each county.
“This is a requirement passed by the Utah Legislature in 2015 and amended in 2016 to require all counties in the state of Utah to develop a County Resource Management Plan,” she said.
A CRMP overview provided by Moser says traditionally, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service are responsible for completing resource management plans. But action taken by the Legislature in 2015 and 2016 amends Utah State Code to require every county in Utah to complete a CRMP on all public lands within its jurisdiction.
Specifically, according to the overview, the Legislature amended County General Plan requirements to include a CRMP that provides “for the protection, conservation, development, and managed use of resources that are critical to the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of the county and of the state.”
“It [the CRMP] allows the counties to be able to set the direction for the resources within the county and federal land managers use their plans as they develop resource management plans for federal lands,” said Moser.
But planning commission chairman Lynn Butterfield questioned, “because we don’t manage any of these [federal] lands, how in the world will we have any impact, or any say, on how these lands are managed?”
Tooele County Recorder/Surveyor Jerry Houghton said the “mandate” for each county to develop a CRMP is a result of the Utah Legislature making public lands an issue and wanting to protect and have oversight of those lands instead of the federal government “dictating to us what happens.”
The mandate for each county to develop a CRMP is to show the federal government the state is ready to manage federal lands if they are ever turned over to the state, he said. Each CRMP from Utah’s 29 counties will be combined into one overall resource management plan for the state, he added.
“What we’re trying to do is utilize you [the planning commission] as our steering committee to tell us and make recommendations to the county commission what you think will be the best management of these resources if they were ever turned over at some local level,” Houghton said.
Those resources he referred to include 28 “core” resources the county’s CRMP must include, according to Moser. Mining, livestock and grazing, fire and forest management, water rights, predator control, energy and mineral resources, and wilderness are just 10 of the items the document must address.
For over 90 minutes, the planning commission ticked through all 28 resources, which Moser will further refine into policies and objectives in the CRMP. She said the deadline for presenting a finalized CRMP to the state is Aug. 1.
Additional meetings with the planning commission on the CRMP’s development are scheduled for April 7, May 3 and July 18. When finished the CRMP will be added to the county’s new General Plan, which was developed in 2015 and approved by the county commission in 2016.