Duncan, who also serves at the chairwoman of the Castle Valley Hazard Mitigation Planning Committee, said that John Crofts, director of the NFIP, will be attending the next hazard mitigation meeting scheduled for Feb. 12 at 6 p.m. at the Castle Valley Town Hall. Crofts will be accompanied by Brad Bartholomew, the state hazard mitigation officer. They will be providing information about the National Flood Insurance Program and they will be answering questions.
“Participation in the NFIP ensures that communities are eligible for help from FEMA in the event of a flood disaster,” Duncan said. “It also enables citizens to obtain flood insurance at reasonable costs.”
The Town of Castle Valley is not currently participating in the program. However, the Castle Valley Hazard Mitigation Committee is in the process of developing a hazard mitigation plan for the community and feels that flooding is one of the higher priorities.
Town officials are considering participation in the NFIP and they appreciate this opportunity to learn more about the program and to offer this chance to residents to ask questions and voice their concerns before making a final decision. “All are strongly encouraged to attend,” Duncan said.
In other business during the Jan. 22 town council meeting, Castle Valley Road Manager Greg Halliday proclaimed that “everything is working and is safe and reliable,” referring to the condition of the town’s road equipment. A recent repair session by a Grand Junction heavy equipment mechanic repaired the brakes and fixed seals on the grader and a previous repair job fixed a potential problem of sheared-off bolts that “could have lost the grader,” Halliday said. He said the mechanic told him that he “dodged the bullet” by catching and repairing the problem at that time. Halliday said he likes to be there when the mechanic is working on the equipment so he can point out abnormalities on the equipment and get them fixed before they become critical. It seems that the town’s mature road equipment is in need of constant maintenance and repair.
The council approved a letter, which was prepared by Mayor Dave Erley, to be sent to the district ranger of the Moab-Monticello Ranger District in Moab. The letter stated that the town wanted to go on the record as strongly objecting to the Forest Service’s decision regarding the La Sal Springs Protection and Water Development project related specifically to the diversion and three water troughs proposed in the Pinhook Basin.
“This area is within the Town’s Sole Source Aquifer Protection area and should be rested from grazing to allow native grasses to dominate with the end goal of making it more resistant to climate change,” the letter states. The letter enclosed a paper entitled “Conditions favouring Bromus tectorum dominance of endangered sagebrush steppe ecosystems,” which was published in the Journal of Applied Ecology. Erley said that the paper clearly details the likelihood of creating a cheat grass-dominated ecosystem by spreading water troughs, and thus spreading grazing, around in the area burned in the 2008 Porcupine fire.
The council also voted to send a letter to the Grand County Council regarding the Bishop Public Lands Initiative. Rep. Rob Bishop, a Utah Republican, is leading a congressional effort that he says aims to resolve a long-standing public lands disputes throughout eastern Utah. Reps. Jason Chaffetz and Chris Stewart, both Utah Republicans, are also involved in the initiative. Their proposal could create new wilderness areas in a seven-county region, while freeing up other federally administered lands for resource development. The Grand County Council, which has not yet submitted any specific comments on the proposal, voted last year to begin its own lands review process and opened a public comment period. In view of the lack of response, Grand County Council chairman Lynn Jackson agreed to extend the public comment period to Jan. 30. He urged people to submit their thoughts and suggestions if they have concerns about what lands in Grand County are going to look like in two to three decades.
On another subject, Castle Valley Town Council member Tory Hill made a motion of authorize the town clerk to have a petition book to allow residents to sign the petition for the “Count my vote initiative.” On the subject of reviewing and annual Utah Permanent Community Impact Fund Board (CIB) list, the council discussed the equipment needs for the community and creating a fund to begin purchasing newer, more reliable equipment. The subject of replacing the culvert in Castle Creek under Castle Valley Drive was also discussed as an option for a grant or loan from the CIB.