Castle Valley Comments: Nov. 7, 2019

ron drake castle valley comments
Ron Drake

The burn window in Grand County has opened as of Nov. 1 after it was postponed by the county fire warden because of the hazardous fire conditions that existed. However, burning in Castle Valley is still not allowed because of Castle Valley Town Ordinance 2007-6.

The ordinance states: “SECTION 1: Period of prohibition/restriction: At any time that the Fire District sign posts a fire hazard at a “High,” “Very High,” or “Extreme” level, the activities listed in Section 2 are strictly prohibited. This includes periods when, according to Utah State officials, the “burn window” is open. Section 2 lists the prohibited hazards. They include the burning of trash or refuse, fires for recreational purposes, fireworks, welding, grinding and other hazards.

The fire danger that is posted at the entrance to the town is obtained from the Moab Interagency Fire Center and is checked daily by Castle Valley Fire Department officials to keep the fire danger current. The fire danger is determined by examining the spread component, ignition component, drought index and the burning index, which factors in wind and relative humidity.

The fire danger is expressed by using the five levels that are seen on the fire danger sign at the entrance to the town. They are “Low” where fuels do not ignite readily except from an intense heat source such as lightning. “Moderate” where fires can start from most accidental causes. “High” where all fine dead fuels ignite readily and fires start easily from most causes. “Very High” where fires start easily from all causes and immediately spread, and “Extreme” where fires start quickly, spread furiously and burn intensely. All fires are potentially serious.

When the county burn window is open and burning is allowed, residents still have to call the sheriff’s office to get a permit, which is based on the clearing index. If the clearing index, which is issued by the county health department, is not at least 500 feet, a permit will not be issued. For us in Castle Valley it is possible that the fall burning window will close before the fire danger drops to “Moderate” unless the burn window is extended, but we still have to contend with the clearing index, which is sometimes hard to come by in the winter months.


Emily Svendson was walking down Castle Valley Drive with a small herd of goats behind her one day last week. It looked a little unusual even for Castle Valley. But she said that she was relieved that she found her four goats after they went missing the day before.

It all started when Emily decided to go on a horse ride that day and the goats, Billy, Mama, Baby and Jezebel, followed behind them like they usually do on these outings. They went on a little different trail this day and when they got to a steep section of the trail, the goats didn’t want to go down the hill. So thinking they knew their way home, she let them go back. When she got back home the goats weren’t there and the frantic search for them began. She checked all of the side roads above her house yelling “goaties,” a call they recognize and to which they always answer. This went on until midnight and she was “totally freaked out,” she said, and she finally went home, hardly sleeping that night because of worry.

The next morning Warren Egbert saw them walking up his driveway on upper Rim Shadow Lane and called her on the phone asking if they belonged to her. When she arrived they were not there but when she called out to the “goaties,” they came running out of a ravine and thus began the trek home and to safety. “I love my goats, just like my dogs,” she said as they walked up Castle Valley Drive.


The transit of Mercury will occur next Monday. That is when Mercury will pass in front of the Sun on Monday morning, Nov. 11, John Buchanan reminds us. “This is rare, as the next transit occurs Nov. 13, 2032,” he said.

He continues: “The sun will rise around 7:45 a.m. while the transit is already underway, and then conclude about 11 a.m. I will be photographing the event and if you’re interested in the setup and approach, please feel free to stop by at my place on 106 E. Pace Lane. I will also have a small refractor telescope fitted with a solar filter for visual viewing. Lower your expectations since this is not a fast-moving event, and what you’ll see is a small round dot – the shadow of Mercury – passing across the face of the Sun. Still cool to see and image.”