The Park Record editorial, August 18-20, 2010
August 17, 2010
Summit County officials and members of the public, especially in North Summit, should carefully vet the current proposal for a military-type training site submitted by ChamTech Enterprises. The project will be the subject of a public hearing tonight (Wednesday, Aug. 18) at 7 p.m. at Summit County Courthouse.
The applicant wants to establish a 2,500-acre facility on rangeland northeast of Echo. Though the developers say there will be no aircraft or explosives, that may be small comfort for backcountry travelers who worry about whether they might inadvertently cross over onto land being used for sniper training.
The Summit County site, apparently, was not ChamTech’s first choice. A similar proposal from the same group was recently denied in Duchesne County after residents turned out in force to voice their concerns. Their worries revolved around safety for nearby residents and the potential for attracting fringe-type militia groups.
ChamTech representatives told The Park Record that they plan to screen out paramilitary groups through extensive background checks and they have also tried to reassure county officials that they would ensure the safety of surrounding residents.
Local officials also cited concerns about fire safety a concern that was brought into focus this week when a wildfire was ignited near the police shooting range near Parleys Summit. Though the exact cause of the fire has not been determined, one possibility is that it was started by an errant bullet.
Officials charged with responsibility for wildland fires, livestock and wildlife should be called upon to weigh in on the ChamTech proposal before any decisions are made.
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But, in addition to evaluating the practical aspects of this proposal, residents and their elected officials should also look at the subjective implications of approving a private military training facility in our community. Coalville Mayor Duane Schmidt said it well when he commented that the economic impact might be positive but it could come at the cost of "tranquility for our friends and neighbors down in Henefer and Echo."
ChamTech’s application says activities on the property would focus on in-the-field military training, vehicle and sniper training, along with surveillance and counter-surveillance techniques. Given the current controversy surrounding private military contractors, Summit County residents should pay particularly close attention to this application, even though it would be located in a remote corner of the county.