Friday, July 28, 2006

Times of the Essence

The Little Hole issue continues to consist of negotiations and fact finding as we end near another week of meetings. There is still hope, yet SITLA would like to make a decision. We are trying to prevent this parcel from going to public auction. Unless we severly discredit the value of this parcel, which is possible, we really don’t stand much of a chance. I believe they will make the right decision if they are presented with the appropriate scenario. Although they have given us some directions, we are still throwing darts in the dark.

Today we meet with the Division (DWR). There is a deal on the table that has yet to be fully explored by either party. As I’ve stated earlier they, the Division, has yet to clarify this offer. As Kevin Carter has insinuated, our best opportunity lies with them.

In letters that we have obtained through a GRAMMA request it shows the intent to offer a wide variety of lands in exchange for the Little Hole parcel. Yesterday, in meetings with Kevin Carter, he stated that he responded to this letter and was rather specific with what they need. In his words, the Division failed to respond or failed to respond in an appropriate manner.

It is clear what Kevin Carters job is, to maximize revenues from properties they control. We feel that they can still do this, yet preserve this important parcel from development. This would involve the offer that is still out there where they would accept a comparable parcel/s in exchange for the Little Hole lands. The Division has properties of equal value that have yet to be put forth, but at this juncture appear willing to now throw into the mix.

Should the Division make such an offer and SITLA decides to accept it, then, for the most part everyone wins. That is everyone except the Casino owners and the few elite users who will benefit from this development. SITLA can then sell the exchanged parcel and meet their fiduciary responsibilities and intern preserves the Green River corridor from private development. Such a deal would benefit Trust Lands beneficiaries in two ways: one they benefit from the diverse recreational attributes this unique resource offers through its preservation. Two, they would also have an opportunity to cash out on the exchanged parcel. Although this organization focus centers around cash, how can you put a price on the value of this resource when it comes to the quality of the experience it offers.

Should the Division step up to the plate, I personally believe they will send a clear message to their constituents, a group who at this juncture is not very happy with their efforts when it comes to fisheries management. This attitude is a clear reflection in the states steady decline in license sales. They have a number of programs in place to market and promote Utah’s great fishing to dry and drive license sale, however for the money I think there are few options before them that would have the impact and send a very clear message to the anglers of their intentions should they consummate this deal and preserve this controversial parcel.

That is where we are as of today. By this afternoon we may no more. If the Division doesn’t want to play, then our only hope is to focus on the access and environmental issue that a development would face on this property. This is still a strong case, but far more risky, time consuming and spendie. Should it go this route, it get ugley and we really loose a potential win/win situation.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Still Going

Time seems to be standing still as we continue to have meetings with a variety of entities in a continued effort to preserve the Little Hole parcel. We have been trying with no success to get Mr. Carter to treat this parcel with special considerations. Within the content of their own borchure they can treat such sensitive properties with consideration to their unique values. The special consideration we would be to allow a purchase to take place between DWR and SITLA that satisfies their mandate yet preserve these lands for a use that best suits the public and wildlife.

Should Mr. Carter not allow such a transaction to take place then the parcel will go to auction. Given the news from last weeks meetings and inquiry’s the Division would be unlikely to win out under this scenario. Rumor has it that Flint Timber is only the developer. A Las Vegas Casino owner, actually he or they own several of them, is the money behind the Lodge proposal. We have heard this from two different sources. When we asked Mr. Carter about his thoughts should this be true, he said that he really doesn’t care who the backers are as long as SITLA satisfies its criteria. I wonder?

He obviously cares, otherwise he would not have responded to the publics input and concerns. His other comment should this rumor be true, is that in time people will forget. He obviously spends little time on the Green. Ever time we fish these waters we will be reminded of Mr. Carter and SITLA’s decision, good or bad. Given this states position on gambling and lotteries I wonder what the powers that be think. SITLA’s had considerable bad press over the past several years. I don’t think this is the kind of feather in ones cap that will make people forget such news, yet should these lands be set aside in the best interest of the masses, they stand to gain a fair amount of good press and public sentiment.

Last Wednesday morning, Paul Dremann, Rich Seamons and David Sedar met with Mike Styler(DNR)and Jim Karpowitz (DWR). Not having heard from their offices since our last sit down, we were getting nervous about their position and efforts to broker this deal. Although they have had numerous opportunities in the past to secure the lands from SITLA, they have failed to do so. Although they say that this Little Hole parcel is of high priority and has been for years we have seen little evidence to support their position.

More players are coming to the table everyday in support of the anglers efforts. Hopefully, in combination there will be anoffer that will be acceptable to the powers that be. There is really a win win for SITLA and those who oppose the construction of the Lodge. That decision is in their hands and theirs alone!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Where Everyone Stands

With the 4th of July weekend it’s been difficult to get some of the issues still on the docket resolved. At this point there are two primary players who are willing to partner with the DWR to purchase the SITLA parcel. SITLA met with their board today to discuss options available to them at this point before moving forward. We are anxious to here what they have to say.

In our recent discussions with Kevin Carter he appears to be willing to take the next step and consider a purchase agreement of some kind. However, to my understanding, only those who have been involved in the process and have made offers can participate. The Division, regardless of what it has offered in the past, can participate since they own the grazing rights to the land. This would be good news but, it doesn't mean we are out of the woods yet.

Since my last Blog the Stonefly Society, one of the driving forces behind this controversy, has paid to have the parcel appraised. This isn’t an easy process given the numerous complexities involved, access being the most significant of these. Yet, at this juncture we feel we have a fairly reasonable assessment of the properties value. This information will help greatly if the DWR is given the opportunity to make an offer for purchase.

As mentioned there are numerous complexities and issues. If by chance, and there is still a chance, that Flint Timber and Spinnerfall be awarded the lease, there are significant issues that need to be resolved: access and environmental impacts being the most noteworthy.

It’s still questionable whether the road enters SITLA’s land. If the DWR sticks to their guns then they have a legal argument here that would still need clarification since the access road passes directly through the middle of their adjacent parcel. Old plot maps indicate that this road ends 400' short of the SITLA parcel. Then there is the cost of improving this road and the issues surround that development.

Power is another issue. It’s unlikely that those federal entities that border this property would grant the passing of power lines through their turf. Therefore, it’s likely that generators would have to be used to power the lodge and accompanying buildings. The developers say that the facilities would have little impact on the area, visibly or audibly. During the construction phase and after its completion with no power I can only imagine the audible effects to wildlife and users of the canyon. It's bad enough across the way. Surround sound would do little to improve matters in this already congested area.

One of the access issues that has not been brought to the forefront is the road from the south side and it's impact to the shops and services on the north side of the corridor. Should this project go through the traffic to the south side of the river would increase significantly. Not only would you have the development, but you would see an increase in the number of users on this side of the river. This would only add to an already congested area. It would also decrease the traffic on the other side of the corridor where all of the areas services are located. It may not be a huge number, but such impacts are not easily made up. Having just gone through this with Cabelas, I know first hand.

The Daggett County Commissioners feel that this development would create some positive economic impact, however those who could now easily access the river corridor through the other side, should access be grated, would have little need to venture to the north side of the river nor use any of those facilities that rely upon the rivers visitors for their revenue. Not to mention the impact to the overall area, which we believe would only deter overall visitation to this great river. Elevated use over the years and that national perception has already led to some adversity regarding the experience anglers are having on the Green.

The Commissioners are also concerned about the loss of tax revenues to Daggett County should this parcel fall into DWR’s hands. Its common practice for the Division to pay such taxes, therefore this concern can be easily negated. These guys could use all the letters you could send. We need to get them on board and at the moment they are waffling:

The Green River Corridor is unique in it's absence of development at this point. That fact is one of several reasons that makes this fishery so spectacular. If you fish around the west at all, you know that there are few riversof such caliber that have no private development: Madison, Henry's Fork, Yellowstone, South Fork; its a long list. Should this parcel be developed, we would loose forever one of the few remaining great fisheries absent of private development.