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NORTH SLOPE LAND PURCHASE

More than a decade ago the Forest Service, conservationists, and even Utah politicos set a spark to the idea of consolidating significant acreage on the North Slope of the High Uintas—the so-called checkerboard sections between the East Fork Bear and the West Fork Blacks Fork, including Mill Creek, Cataract Creek, Brush Creek and Carter Creek. To the credit of the Forest Service—none deserves more credit that long time Evanston/ Mt. View District Ranger Steve Ryberg and his staff— and Senator Bob Bennett (R.-UT)— one more step has been completed. Using Land and Water Conservation Funds (LWCF), the Forest Service just finalized purchasing just over 4,300 acres of land from Anadarko Petroleum Company. These in-holdings were originally part of Union Pacific land grant for the transcontinental railroad. In 2003 just over 3,100 acres were purchased from private in-holdings using LWCF funds. The last phase of this process, if LWCF are available in the next two years, would result in purchasing about 7,200 acres of remaining Anadarko in-holdings.

Of course, management questions abound. Some of this country qualifies as roadless and thus poses the question as to whether the Forest Service will simply open it to more ATV loop trails for those motors among us, more country open to snowmobiles, more bogus healthy forest lingo to justify salvage logging and road building. Let’s hope ecological literacy prevails and the country is allowed wildness!

Dick Carter


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