Castle Valley Comments

The monthly meeting of the Castle Valley Town Council, which was held May 15, covered a lot of agenda items, but much of the discussion centered on the potentially hazardous fire season coming up.

Jason Kirks from the Bureau of Land Management told the council and audience that the initial work on the BLM Fire Mitigation Project for the upper area of Castle Valley is nearly complete and he is ready to publish the document for public comment.

The analysis area consists of 7,000 acres around Round Mountain and the project involves thinning the vegetation east of the town to mitigate fire potential to the valley. Kirks has been working with local officials and residents and has implemented many of their suggestions into the plan. He said that he appreciates working with the community and appreciates their support for the project.

Later in the meeting council members discussed their concern about the potential of extreme fire danger and discussed a possible campaign to warn residents. Some of the ideas included sending an email to everyone on the town’s email list and placing fire warning signs along Castle Valley Drive to remind residents of the fire danger. Another thought was to hold an open house and ask the fire department to give a presentation similar to the one that was presented to the Castle Valley Women’s Workshop several weeks ago.

The fire department agreed to hold an open house sometime within the next few weeks. Along the same theme the next agenda item was about mowing Castle Valley Drive and the side lanes to help with the fire mitigation effort. The road department will immediately begin mowing the roads to create a better firebreak and also remove high vegetation in the event a vehicle pulls off of the road and inadvertently starts a fire from a hot catalytic converter.

In other news …

After a public hearing of the Municipal Building Authority, the council voted to authorize the annual payment of $7,250 for the town building loan. It was mentioned that there are 14 years left on the 30-year Community Impact Board loan.

The council voted to appoint Leigh Singleton of Moab as the town’s representative on the Grand County Recreation Special Service District. There was no local interest for the post and Singleton expressed a desire to serve on the board and was appointed by the council.

Town Clerk Jocelyn Buck also announced that she will be taking applications for the annual Castle Valley $2,500 Scholarship, which is available for Castle Valley high school seniors who are planning to go to a college or trade school. They will need to write a letter to request the grant and proof of acceptance to an institution of higher learning. Call the town office at 435-259-9828 for more information.

A resolution to adopt the amended FY2019 budget and another resolution to adopt the tentative FY2020 budget was approved by the council. The proposed 2020 budget is $234,045 and the hearing to formally approve the budget will be held after a public hearing scheduled for June 19.

The council discussed funding for a pit toilet to be placed on the town hall property. The argument is that there is a playground and basketball court on the lot without a public toilet and most thought it would be appropriate to have one there since the town hall is not always open. The toilet would be similar to those concrete structures commonly found at the BLM campgrounds along the river road and most other campgrounds.

The Grand County Recreation Board offered $5,000 toward the toilet, and with $3,000 in next year’s budget the council voted to open a capital fund account toward the purchase of the toilet.

The council discussed a “real ramping up of flights” around Castle Valley lately. Council Member Tory Hill said that Grand County doesn’t have flying restrictions to regulate the flights, and an official at the Canyonlands Airport told Council Member Alice Drogin that people could fly anywhere they want as long as they are 500 feet aboveground. Hill thought the town could petition the county to work on creating an ordinance to give the town some leverage. This subject came to a head when a couple of Piper Super Cub airplanes were flying around the valley several weeks ago. One apparently tried to land on Parriott Mesa during their antics that day and reportedly damaged the propeller of the aircraft or couldn’t get back in the air after the landing. Whatever the reason, the plane had to be airlifted off of the mesa by a helicopter the next day and residents in the valley photographed the event.

Apparently, there is a group known as the “Flying Cowboys” of Utah with some group members possibly based in the Grand Junction area who like to go on these weekend excursions. They are skilled and talented bush pilots who like to explore canyons and touch down on water surfaces, but most people in the valley don’t necessarily want them here.