County Watch | ParkRecord.com

County Watch

Compiled by Patrick Parkinson

The swearing in Wednesday of Summit County Councilwoman Claudia McMullin left a seat open on the influential Snyderville Basin Planning Commission.

McMullin was Planning Commission chairwoman when she retired from the panel last month. She was elected in November to her new County Council post.

"You want somebody who has been involved in the county, who has an interest in development," said Brian Bellamy, interim Summit County manager, about those who should apply.

People interested in filling the Planning Commission seat should contact Assistant Summit County Manager Anita Lewis at 615-3220.

Fire commissioners reappointed

Three members of the administrative control board for the Park City Fire District Robbie Beck, Jim Bacon and Shauna Kerr — were reappointed to serve four more years on the panel.

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Among their duties is overseeing the Fire District’s budget.

More permits to hunt bears

Hunters this year might kill eight more bears than were killed in Utah in 2008 after the Utah Wildlife Board approved 319 bear hunting permits for upcoming spring and fall hunting seasons.

In 2008, 299 permits were approved, which means, based on an average kill rate of 41 percent, 20 more permits could result in eight more bears taken by hunters this year, according to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

Utah hunters killed 134 black bears in 2008. The additional permits approved this year are for hunting in the spring.

"In the spring, bears kill a lot of sheep and other livestock," DWR Mammals Coordinator Justin Dolling said in a prepared statement. "Federal officers end up killing many of these bears. Instead of officers taking these bears, we’d like to give hunters a chance to take them."

Officials extended the spring hunting season by one week in areas where bears often threaten livestock.

Wanted: Hot shot firefighters

Interested in a career in wildland firefighting?

The Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest is recruiting for seasonal positions including engine and helicopter crew members, hot shot crew members and prevention technicians.

But the work occurs in harsh conditions and is physically exhausting, according to a prepared statement from the U.S. Forest Service.

Applicants must be at least 18 years old and pass a fitness test. For information about how to apply visit http://www.fs.fed.us/fire/people/employment/index.html.

Optimistic Farm Bureau outlook

Economic challenges farmers faced in 2008 included a volatile energy market, retail food price increases and a host of weather-related situations, Utah Farm Bureau President Leland Hogan said in a prepared statement this week.

"It’s true that 2008 has left those of us in agriculture with challenges as we enter a new year and new crop season," said Hogan, who is a rancher in Tooele County. "But as is always the case, those challenges can also turn out to be great opportunities for success if farmers and ranchers rise to the occasion, match uncertainty with optimism and are able to produce under the right set of circumstances."

The change in political philosophy at the federal level related to the election of Barack Obama is another uncertainty farmers and ranchers face in 2008, Hogan said.

"With a new administration comes the potential for a change in philosophy related to agriculture regulations, public land access and environment concerns," Hogan said.

About 70 percent of Utah is public lands and changes in the environmental and regulatory landscape impact those living in rural counties, he stressed.

"We will have to wait and see what the management philosophy will be with this new administration," Hogan said.

The fluctuating commodities market poses additional challenges and a steady supply of legal workers is needed, he added.

"Despite many unfortunately losing their jobs recently, we in agriculture have not seen a rush to the farms for jobs," Hogan said. "Many of the jobs in farming and ranching are demanding and very difficult, and we’re just not seeing a steady supply of local workers to fill those jobs, even with the hard economic times locally."

But agriculture exports in America could increase in 2009, he said.

"We saw exports of American agricultural products soar to a record $100 billion in 2008," Hogan said. "This positive trend looks to continue into the future and Utah agriculturalists are poised to benefit."