- Category: Featured News
By: Norman Murray (c) 2016
(December 3, 2016) During the early years of the last century, the advent of radio technology spawned activity among amateur enthusiasts. The early applications of wireless communication provided contact with ships at sea long before their arrival in port. As the level of activity increased, applications of the new technology became the object of government regulation so that today we have a variety of services, including the Amateur Radio service, licensed through the Federal Communications Commission.
Collectively, amateur radio operators pursue various interests engaging in local contacts through hand-held radios, or in long-distance communication by signal propagation around the earth, by links through satellites, or by reflection off the Moon. Depending on their licensed privileges, they may choose from a variety of modalities (for example, Morse code, digital, and voice). They communicate casually as conditions permit or by prior arrangement on an organized local, regional or national basis. Operators may join organized services to provide backup communications in emergencies to public agencies and private entities.
Some choose to participate at regular times in what are known as traffic nets for the purpose of originating, forwarding, and receiving formal messages for delivery. Such messages are known as Radiograms and may be sent to anyone within the United States or within any country having a bi-lateral treaty with the United States permitting such activity. The service is available to the general public at no charge. Messages are handled at the individual operator's discretion.
The operators handling a Radiogram pride themselves on rendering the message on delivery letter-for-letter the same as the original.
Anyone wishing to send such a message from a point of origin within the United States may engage the process by completing a Radiogram Request as follows:
Send a Radiogram – Today!
Need to communicate but lack the necessary means? If so, compose your message below and, after searching on the Internet at hamcall.net/search with your ZIP code for an amateur “Ham” radio operator near you, send your message through him/her.
Message text of 25 words or less:
( ) Verify receipt; ( ) Get a return message
Give your request to an amateur radio operator who will handle your message. Operators will relay your message by radio to an operator near the message’s destination, where it can be delivered by making a local phone call, by postal mail, or in person. The service is free of charge. Rev 6
- Written by Shellie Dutson
- Category: Featured News
A vehicle struck a 17-year-old Delta High School student on the morning of Friday, Sept. 30 at approximately 8 a.m.
According to Utah Highway Patrolman Alan Pedersen, the student was traveling northbound on 100 West. The cyclist failed to stop at the stop sign on Main Street.
By the time she entered the right hand travel lane, an eastbound car stopped abruptly to avoid colliding with her. A pickup truck, driven by a 16-year old student was traveling in the number one eastbound lane. The driver traveled past the first vehicle just as the cyclist was passing the stopped car in front of the pickup truck, colliding.
The 17-year-old cyclist was taken by ambulance to the Delta Community Medical Center. She was flown via LifeFlight to Primary Children’s Hospital as a precaution. According to Pedersen her injuries were not life threatening.
No charges will be filed in this incident.
- Written by Sam
- Category: Featured News
After 32 years of service, Captain Forrest “Trees” Roper has decided to retire from duty. Roper began his career in law enforcement in 1984, his first position as a patrol deputy with the Millard County Sheriff’s Office.
“My entire career has been with this office,” Roper said. Roper served as a patrol deputy for twelve years, then transferred to the Millard County Jail as a jail supervisor before being promoted to jail commander for seven years. Roper served as administrative lieutenant, before moving to his final position as Chief Deputy for the past eight years.
“I’ve been through just about every division we have, with the exception of investigations,” Roper said. “When they started me on, a deputy took the case and followed it through. Now detectives do all that.”
Roper said some aspects of law enforcement have changed since his beginnings. “Technology for one thing, like every other aspect of our lives, has changed drastically. We’re essentially still using the same radio system, with some modern modifications.”
Roper also said the perception of law enforcement by the public has been changing in the past few years.
While serving with the sheriff’s office, Roper was actively involved in the emergency preparedness of the county.
“In 1988, the emergency preparedness and management functions had been assigned by the county commission to the sheriff’s office,” Roper said. “So I’ve been involved since then with the State of Utah, and was introduced through the state to CERT.”
Roper was Chair of the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC). The LEPC is a function of hazardous material management. It is a federal requirement that each community has an LEPC.
“We, as well as most other counties and municipalities, use that forum as emergency planning for all hazards.”
One of Roper’s most memorable experiences during his career occurred on July 28, 1988.
Roper was halfway through his hazardous material training, when a truck wrecked approximately twenty miles south of Fillmore, and in the process, dumped twenty-five thousand pounds of extremely toxic sodium cyanide along Interstate 15.
“We ended up shutting down the freeway and closing the airspace for a five mile radius,” Roper said. “I was out there nonstop, for about ninety-six hours. We had responders from many other counties helping us. It could’ve been a lot worse.”
Roper credits the spill as more or less a good memory of his service--another event ingrained in his memory was the loss of Deputy Josie Greathouse Fox.
“I’ll never forget that,” he said.
Roper said he never initially had the great desire to enter law enforcement. “I was in between jobs, and thought it would be good benefits, and that it would be an interesting job and it has been.”
Roper’s previous jobs have included ten years as a building contractor, pouring concrete in the Salt Lake Valley, and local agriculture.
“I knew I’d never get rich doing this job but, overall, the people in this office and other offices, and the public have been great. There are times when you get a hug or a handshake from someone you’ve helped, and it makes it go a long ways.”
Roper said being a sheriff’s deputy has been one of the most rewarding jobs he’s ever had.
“Trees has been an asset to this office since the day that he started,” Sheriff Robert Dekker said, “He has one of the best work ethics of anybody I know. He’s never satisfied with mediocre, he’ll always do the best that he can.”
Dekker says Roper shines in whatever assignment he’s been given, with examples of helping modernize the sheriff office’s communication systems and keeping EMS codes up to date.
“He’s been a good friend and confidant. His position will be very hard to fill,” Dekker said.
Roper’s last day with the Millard County Sheriff’s Office is Oct. 3.
- Written by Mark Watson
- Category: Featured News
About 40 crop producers from Millard County spent last Wednesday learning how to improve the soil on their farms.
The producers gleaned information from a pair of experts in a classroom setting at the Millard County Fair Building in Delta. Then, they boarded a school bus to visit the farms of Paul McCollaum and Chance Lyman who have used some of the practices the past two years.
Lyman is a Delta Conservation District board member and was the main host for the event.
He enjoys the farming lifestyle and would like to keep his children in the area as they grow up. To do that he will need to keep his operation profitable.
“If I don’t begin to apply these (soil health) principles I’m not going to be in business to keep my children here,” Lyman said. “Following soil health principles I have found a way to reduce my negative influence on the ground. It’s challenging. Some of these things haven’t ever been used out here.”
Four main points provided by the experts to enhance the soil of fields were to provide continuous roots, maximize biodiversity, minimize disturbance and maximize soil cover.
Too much tilling and toying with depleted topsoil can lead to compaction that inhibits the amount of water to the plants.
Lyman feeds his herd of cows in certain locations to distribute the manure. “It’s cost-effective if I move my cattle versus spreading manure,” he said.
McCollaum said he has planted cover crops the past two years and has seen mixed results.
Utah State University Extension Soils Specialist Grant Cardon told the group that soil is a living, breathing tissue. He said topsoil is more organic than sub soils. “Topsoil can take 500 plus years to develop,” Cardon said.
He said loamy soil is the best, but soils can be amended with organic material. That process is known as tilth.
Cardon said people could help change soils naturally. Some of the practices in the past have been good and some bad. All the factors are interrelated.
Neils Hansen, agronomist with USU, also spoke to the group.
“It amazes me when I come out to Delta. You guys can farm!” Hansen said. “You’re growing things on an old lakebed that has been a desert for many thousands of years. It doesn’t have much organic matter. I have to take my hat off to you because you are creating something that has never been there before.”
Hansen said farmers should reduce tillage as much as they can.
“We love the idea of cover crops, eight to ten types of cover crops. We love cover crops because it increases organic matter, increases water infiltration, increases earthworms,” he said.
Lyman was pleased with the soil health workshop and field trip.
“If producers in the area start using soil health principles now, they will see major improvement and quality in the soil the next five years,” he said.
- Written by Sam
- Category: Featured News
The Millard County company LiquaDry was found not liable in a lawsuit for the wrongful death of 51-year old Valinda Conk, after a seven-day trial.
The eight-person jury of seven women and one man was selected from a pool of one hundred people over a one-day selection, and achieved their verdict after an hour and a half deliberation on the afternoon of Wednesday, Sept. 21.
Valinda Conk was killed on February 22, 2012, after her vehicle was involved in a collision with a Ford New Holland tractor allegedly owned by LiquaDry. The tractor was being used by a minor, another defendant in the case, for a local Future Farmers of America (FFA) event on the day of the accident. The incident occurred at the intersection of Cropper Lane and Lone Tree Road (Center Street), south of Delta, at approximately four o’clock in the afternoon.
LiquaDry was being sued by the estate of Conk under the allegations of being liable for allowing an inexperienced, incompetent, or otherwise unsafe driver to operate a piece of farm machinery, which in turn ended in the unexpected loss of her life.
However, the members of the jury felt the company was not responsible, as the minor defendant’s parents had asked LiquaDry for permission to use the tractor previously. The minor had intensive previous experience in the operation of farm machinery, and incompetency was not a believable factor in the original arrangement.
Due to the nature of the case, the verdict was not limited to “guilty” or “not guilty” options; rather, jury members were instructed to decide if they felt LiquaDry was responsible for Conk’s death, as their piece of farm equipment had been involved.
“Had this case been between two separate individuals, the outcome most likely would have been very different,” a juror said. “But, because of the circumstances and evidence, we felt that LiquaDry simply was not liable. We all took our time and deliberated, and this was what we felt was true.”
“This was a tragedy on both sides,” said Ruth Shapiro, attorney for LiquaDry. “This was not a matter of litigating the automobile accident or the tractor accident, but on whether or not LiquaDry was right to loan the tractor for a community event. The jury did its job, and felt it to be a proper decision.”
Shapiro credits the professionalism of the plaintiff attorneys in aiding the quick resolution of the trial. “This was a well tried case with the upmost professionalism.”
The Chronicle Progress reached out to the plaintiff attorneys but was unable to receive comment.
- Written by Sam
- Category: Featured News
Brett Bramble of Atlanta, Georgia, has been walking across the United States for six months. His journey began in March of this year, in honor of his late sister, Brittany, who died of a heroin-related overdose 2014. She joined one of the 47,055 Americans that also lost their lives to drugs.
Bramble’s mission ever since has been to raise awareness and prevention of heroin use and overdose related deaths.
Bramble started walking across America on March 13, with his feet in the Atlantic Ocean in Cape Henlopen State Park in Delaware, and has since trekked through Maryland; Washington D.C.; Virginia; West Virginia; Ohio: Indiana: Illinois; Missouri; Kansas; and Colorado.
“I’m doing this in honor of Brittany,” he said. “She died in March of 2014 of a drug overdose. It was heroin that killed her.”
Bramble said the loss of his sister was a surprise to his family. “It was a big shock, it was a surprise. It wasn’t something we expected. We knew she used occasionally like pills and weed, but having had done some of those things in my past, and getting out, I thought she could do the same.”
Bramble himself had once been involved in drug use, but removed himself from the environment. “There was drama, just a lot of bad drama involved, and I changed the people I was around and got out. It took a few years to patch up the damage that had been done, but I made it.”
“I used to think addiction was an excuse to be weak,” he said. “That it was an excuse to use. I had no choice but to block drugs out of my life. I never talked to anybody that was on them, and I had a good reason to block them out.”
Bramble’s sister had contacted him, wanting to get out herself. “She had seen it work with me, and she was trying. She was having a really stressful time, and the drug use started escalating.”
Brittany had overdosed once before, but survived. Her family held an intervention, and began to prepare to help Brittany attend rehab when three weeks later she lost her life to a second occurrence.
“She was supposed to be at my house that night,” Bramble recalls. “She never made it. She went to what I call the ‘bad house.’ We’ll never know the true story, but the facts of the case are that he never called for help.”
Bramble describes that day as the worst of his life.
Bramble began to research drug-overdose related deaths after his sister’s funeral. His search revealed 129 people died every day in 2014 due to drug related deaths, according to the Center of Disease Control. “I couldn’t believe that,” he said. “I couldn’t believe that 129 families were dealing with the same thing I was.”
Bramble began to attend events and conferences not far after. “I lived in Atlanta, and there’s a lot of people and resources. I went to all the events, anything that had to do with recovery, addiction or overdose. I made sure I talked to the people running them, or the speakers, anybody. I went up to them and shook their hands and said ‘Hey, I’m Brett Bramble. Get to know me.’”
Since then, Bramble has been deeply involved in aiding organizations. “I did one event where I repelled off the side of a building and raised thousands of dollars for an organization called Shatterproof, and a few other things around Atlanta.”
“It felt good. It felt right,” Bramble said. “I knew Brittany would be proud I was telling her story to help try to stop this from happening to anybody else. We loved helping people, her even more than I.”
Bramble and his sister had grown up helping others. As children, they spent a great portion of their lives helping the homeless in Atlanta at their stepfather’s organization SafeHouse Outreach. The idea for the nationwide trek occurred to Bramble during a sleepless night.
“It was one of those ‘awake at two o’clock watching Netflix because you can’t sleep nights’ and I just had the idea; walk across America. It was just a silly idea, but it just wouldn’t leave my head.”
The idea again struck him a week later. “I knew right then and there, I had to do this now. So I told everybody. I told everyone I knew and met I was going to do this. I started my research and talked to people who had done it before and read their stories,” he said.
“I’ve never done anything like this,” Bramble said. “I’ve never been a hiker. This is all new.” Bramble spent a lot of his time planning and organizing for his departure. “I was getting more and more excited every day. In the meantime I was meeting even more people.”
Bramble’s story had caught fi re in the area, and through social media had spread, and had been on local news and other media. “I had gotten people’s attention, now I have to walk across the country.”
During his journey, Bramble has told countless people his story, and his isn’t so dissimilar to others. “Nine times out of ten, the people I’ve talked to are affected. They either know someone, or have lost someone themselves to drug overdose.” “People are very thankful that I’m doing this so openly, because a lot of them are ashamed to talk about it. I help give them a reason to be open,” he said. “I encourage them to use my story if that helps them.”
“Every day has just been incredible,” Bramble said. “Sometimes I’ll run across people that are current addicts, and they’re also very thankful. They know how bad it is, and I just try to motivate them to find that power within. We’re all out of control at the grand scheme of things, but we can all make a difference in our own lives.”
Bramble’s walk hasn’t been without its obstacles. “I’ve had to deal with snow, rain, winds, heat; I had to send my dog, Domino, home to my family when I was in Kansas. There’s a lot of loneliness, sleeping in a tent on the side of a road, sometimes under bridges,” he said. “But all of that’s nothing. I walk twenty to thirty miles a day and I hurt. Everything hurts, but every time I come close to a breaking point, something happens to remind why I’m doing this me.”
Bramble had reached one such point in Kansas City.
“I had gotten a hotel room just to chill out, and take a break. A girl messaged me on Facebook, telling me her sister had just died, and if she could come talk to me.” Bramble recalls that meeting gave him the motivation he needed to finish.
“Since I’ve been in Utah, there have been a lot of lonely days,” he said. “You really fi gure some things out in your head, which has been valuable. Utah is by far the most beautiful state I’ve been through, but it’s been tough.” Bramble was joined in Utah by Ruth Nottage, a practictioner of the Rossiter system.
“She came out here to show me the techniques, and it’s really helped to release the pain I’ve been holding.”
Nottage came to learn of Bramble’s story through a student of hers that watched Bramble begin his journey. “My student called me and said ‘Ruth, you’ve got to meet this guy’. I read his story, I went to his website and I thought; this is amazing. I looked at a map and thought ‘how could I not intercept this guy?’” she said.
Nottage’s own work helps go towards pain prevention, namely helping people ease their suffering without the use of addictive, prescription drugs. “It’s not expensive, it’s not invasive, and it just works. All I’m saying is it’s a good place to start. I want to get to people before they get shots and surgery.”
At the time of press, Bramble had left Delta after being reunited with Domino. He plans to fi nish his journey in early November with his feet in the Pacific Ocean in San Francisco. Once there, he’ll be welcomed by his family and fly back to Georgia, where after time, he plans to write a book about his travels and experiences and begin a lecture circuit around the country.
Bramble can be found on Facebook, and welcomes friend requests. He can be followed on his page, Brett Bramble Walks, or on Instagram at “brettbramblewalks.”
- Written by Mark Watson
- Category: Featured News
Millard County leaders are attempting to enhance economic development with the creation of Community Development Areas (CDAs).
Commissioners passed a resolution to move forward with the plan at a meeting on Aug. 23.
The resolution sets up the possibility of providing tax incentives to companies who want to locate in three specific areas, according to County Commissioner Alan Roper.
“There are three areas designated. One is around the Magnum- IPP area, one around Peak Minerals and another area west of Holden,” Roper said.
The commissioner said the creation of CDAs coincides with what other counties are doing throughout the state in an attempt to enhance economic development. “It is something the county has been looking into for several years,” Roper said.
At the public hearing, government fi nancial advisor Jason Burningham provided an overview of the entire CDA plan.
He said the next step is to go to Millard School District and other taxing entities and get inter- local agreements with those entities that want to participate in the CDAs. A summary of the interlocal agreements would then be published in the newspaper. Adam Richins, NGL Energy Partners/Sawtooth NGL Caverns, asked several questions regarding the RDA formation and mechanism, according to commission meeting minutes.
Richins said that Sawtooth NGL Caverns are not in the CDA project area and asked what it would take to add them to the project area. Burningham briefl y explained the process of adding property into the project area; an amendment to the plan would have to take place and there is an amendment notice period of 30 days. He addressed concerns that Mr. Richins had regarding the tax increment funds.
John Andrews, SITLA, indicated that SITLA is the primary landowner within one of the three areas identifi ed in the plan. He expressed SITLA’s support of Millard County’s efforts regarding economic development, according to commission minutes. Andrews briefly discussed past experiences with CDA’s in a different area and expressed SITLA’s concerns. He said that SITLA will be proactive in engaging with the County and providing input to make sure the purpose of the CDA is met. Andrews stated that SITLA would like for an advisory committee to be created for stakeholder input. He also expressed concerns with proportionality of the anticipated tax increment funds.
Kathryn Steffey and Adam Long, Smith Hartvigsen, representing Magnum Gas, stated that Magnum is also in favor of the creation of an advisory committee. Steffey recommended that three advisory committees be created; one for each of the three different map areas. Steffey indicated that Magnum would like to add privately owned land into the project area. She stated that proportionality of the tax increment funds is also a concern that Magnum has. Steffey said that Magnum hopes to create additional companies and asked for assurance of transfer capability to those within the project area. Greg Kesler pleaded with the County to do whatever it can do to create this CDA, as it will benefi t the economic development in the County. He briefly discussed his concerns with an unnamed industry that spent over $300 million in the County and was also interested in a CDA within the last few years. Jon
Finlinson, IPP, stated that IPP supports economic development. He briefl y discussed some concerns that members have had with CDA’s in northern Utah. He stated that he feels that it is important to have an oversight committee. Millard Economic Development Director Scott Barney expressed his appreciation to everyone for their hard work and patience. He thanked everyone for their concerns and comments. He stated that he would like to see the CDA move forward. He said that he agrees that an advisory committee would be benefi cial, according to commission meeting minutes. Andrews briefly discussed past experiences with CDA’s in a different area and expressed SITLA’s concerns. He said that SITLA will be proactive in engaging with the County and providing input to make sure the purpose of the CDA is met. Mr. Andrews stated that SITLA would like for an advisory committee to be created for stakeholder input. He also expressed concerns with proportionality of the anticipated tax increment funds.
Kathryn Steffey and Adam Long, Smith Hartvigsen, representing Magnum Gas, stated that Magnum is also in favor of the creation of an advisory committee. Ms. Steffey recommended that three advisory committees be created; one for each of the three different map areas.
Steffey indicated that Magnum would like to add privately owned land into the project area. She stated that proportionality of the tax increment funds is also a concern that Magnum has. Ms. Steffey said that Magnum hopes to create additional companies and asked for assurance of transfer capability to those within the project area. Burningham addressed the concerns from Ms. Steffey and stated that most could be handled in the interlocal agreement. Burningham stated that the ability to amend the project area plan will exist once the resolution and ordinance are approved.
Steffey asked for assurance from the County regarding intent to look into creating an advisory committee, adding privately owned property and transfer capability.
Burningham stated that the County is not required to make that assurance.
Greg Kesler pleaded with the County to do whatever it can do to create this CDA, as it will benefit the economic development in the County. He briefly discussed his concerns with an unnamed industry that spent over $300 million in the County and was also interested in a CDA within the last few years. Jon Finlinson, IPP, stated that IPP supports economic development. He briefly discussed some concerns that members have had with CDA’s in northern Utah. He stated that he feels that it is important to have an oversight committee.
Commissioner Roper expressed appreciation for the input provided today. Burningham and the Commission briefly discussed the five different courses of action that can be taken today. There were no other comments made.
- Category: Featured News
BAKER, NV – Great Basin National Park will be reaching out to the public and community members through the park’s website, social media, and will host a table at the Saturday Farmer’s Market in Baker on September 10th to discuss possible fee increases in 2017. The park will continue for now to not charge an entrance fee. Cave tour and camping fees are the only proposed increase. Cave tour fee increases are being proposed to cover the cost associated with providing reservable cave tour tickets on Recreation.gov.
The Lehman Cave Adult 60 minute tour will increase prices from $8 to $9.
The Lehman Cave Adult 90 minute tour will increase prices from $10 to $11.
The Lehman Cave Youth (5-15) 60 minute tour will increase prices from $4 to $5.
The Lehman Cave Youth (5-15) 90 minute tour will increase prices from $5 to $6.
The First Room tour will increase prices from $4 to $5.
The Golden Age/Access pass holder prices will remain the same.
Toddlers (0-5) will remain free.
As visitation has increased over the last three years so has use of the campgrounds and the need to maintain them. Many of the park’s campgrounds have also been improved with new picnic tables, restrooms, fire pits, grills and tent pads. To help cover the continued maintenance of these campgrounds the following fees are proposed.
Wheeler Peak Campground will increase prices from $12 to $15.
Upper Lehman Creek Campground will increase prices from $12 to $15.
Lower Lehman Creek Campground will increase prices from $12 to $15.
Baker Creek Campground will increase prices from $12 to $15.
Grey Cliffs Group Camping will increase prices from $25 to $30.
Snake Creek camp sites will increase prices from $0 to $5.
“We are committed to keeping the park affordable but we also want to provide visitors with the best possible experience,” said Great Basin National Park Superintendent Steve Mietz. “The money from camping and cave tours fees goes back into providing visitors with services at those sites.”
Cave tour fees are used to pay for almost 40% of the staff hired to conduct tours. Campground fees are used for restroom supplies, staff to clean the restrooms and maintain the parks infrastructure in the campgrounds.
Great Basin National Park is a strong economic engine for the surrounding area. In 2015, more than 116,000 park visitors contributed $6.5 million to the local economy and supported 94 jobs related to tourism.
Rangers will be available for questions and to take comments at the Saturday Farmers Market on September 10, 2016 from 8:30 – 11:30 am.
Following the Farmer’s Market feedback will determine how, or if, a fee increase would be implemented.
- Written by Sam
- Category: Featured News
Millard School District will receive $303,629 in School LAND Trust Funds for the 2016-17 school year; its share of a record $49.3 million in annual earnings from the Permanent State School Fund.
Utah State Treasurer David Damschen announced annual earnings from the Permanent Fund increased by 7.7 percent, a $3.5 million increase over the previous year’s earnings.
Each school within the district will receive funds based on enrollment. These discretionary funds support academic programs chosen by individual School Community Councils, which are composed of parents, teachers and the principal from each school, and are approved by each respective local school board.
“Hiring teachers and aides to reduce class sizes, and investing in classroom technology are often priorities for many schools,” said Tim Donaldson, Director of the School Children’s Trust at the Utah State Board of Education. “However, all academic programs, from reading and math tutoring to language and college prep courses, can be funded with school trust funds.”
This November, voters will be asked to consider Constitutional Amendment B, Utah School Funds Modification, which was endorsed by the state legislature during the 2016 General Session. If passed by voters, the amendment will create a new formula for distributing annual earnings that considers enrollment growth and inflation, and includes a three-year average of fund growth to offset market volatility.
At $2.08 billion, the Permanent State School Fund is the state’s largest land grant trust fund. Interest and dividends are distributed directly to schools statewide each year through the School LAND Trust Program.
“We are dedicated to maintaining the Fund’s long-term viability for the schoolchildren of today and the future and are pleased to see its sustained and increased growth,” said David Crandall, Chair of the Utah State Board of Education.
The Permanent State School Fund has grown from $18 million in 1983 to over $2 billion in 2015 because of involvement from the education community, support from Utah’s legislature, revenues from the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration, and prudent investment by the School and Institutional Trust Funds Office
- Written by Sam
- Category: Featured News
Written by Jensie Bahr, USU Summer Intern
For the last 15 years or so, tamarisk beetles have been taking up residence in Millard County in an effort to eradicate the tamarisk tree itself.
Tamarisk is considered to be a nuisance tree, or noxious a weed.
Tamarisk was originally brought into North America from Southern Europe in the early 1800s, which is one of the reasons it had been decided to be removed – because it’s not native to Utah.
Tamarisk were originally used as ornamental plants in people’s yards, and then later as windbreaks and stabilization of river banks.
Tamarisk trees grow in dense, nearly impenetrable thickets, making removal of the tree extremely difficult.
Studies have shown that a mature tamarisk can uptake nearly 200 gallons of water a day. Due to this, the Western United States is losing approximately 2-4.5 million acre feet of water per year due to the overabundance of tamarisk.
Tamarisk has additional negative effects on the environment by narrowing and channelizing streams and Jensie Bahr USU Summer Intern rivers; displacing native vegetation such as cottonwoods, willows, and adjacent dryland plant communities; providing poor habitat for livestock, wild animals, and birds: the foliage and flowers of tamarisk provide little food value for native wildlife species that depend on nutrient-rich native plant resources; increasing wildfire hazards; and limiting human and animal use of the waterways.
Trenton Wilde, former USU Extension County Director & Extension Assistant Professor for Millard County, said there is always a risk of unexpected consequences when bringing in a non-native tree or insect, such as hurting crops, so extensive research had to be done to decide the best route to take in order to remove the tamarisk in the area. The tamarisk beetle was first introduced to Millard County in Hinckley and Clear Lake, which are the original introduction sites of the beetle in the state of Utah. Those sites have now become a source for people to come and collect the beetles and spread them themselves. Wilde said that the beginning of August is a good time to start collecting the beetles to be taken and spread throughout the state.
The tamarisk beetle is a biological treatment for getting rid of the tamarisk trees. It’s a safer option than using chemicals to remove the problem.
“It’s a cutting edge type of treatment in pest issues,” Wilde said.
The beetles have gradually made their way from Hinckley to Delta, and will continue to move if they have a clear path to do so, and if there are still trees to be removed.
So far, it appears that the tamarisk beetles have been sticking strictly to their ‘tamarisk only’ diet, and the hope is that they will continue eating what they’ve been brought in to eat, and nothing more.
According to Wilde, the beetles have been a huge success in killing the tamarisk, especially here in Millard County.
“It’s one of the most successful operations for introducing the beetle to get rid of the tamarisk in Utah,” Wilde said. “The beetles have covered 20 miles so far, eating only the tamarisk, and will continue to do so as long as there is tamarisk to be killed.”
A new cycle of beetle is produced every year, provided there are enough trees to feed on.
The whole process for the beetles to become established and successfully kill a tamarisk tree takes about five years. After the beetles have done their job, they move on. There might be some regrowth at the roots of the tamarisk, but the beetles mostly get the job done on the first try.
The dead tamarisk trees do not get removed – they stay where they are, as dead wood. The beetles are a natural control agent from areas in the world where tamarisk originated, appearing green/brown in color.
For more information on the tamarisk and the tamarisk beetle, visit http://www.discovermoab. com/tamarisk.htm.