Wasatch Open Lands Board Holding Landowner Meeting This Month

Wasatch County residents interested in preserving their land will soon be able to apply for part of the $10 million Open Space Bond passed last year.

Read the original story at KPCW.org

The Wasatch Open Lands Board, or WOLB, was created to preserve agricultural and open lands in Wasatch County for the public. In November of 2018 Wasatch County residents passed a $10 million open space bond, that money can be leveraged against other funding sources including state and federal funds to purchase development rights off of willing property owners in the county. Representing Heber City on the board is councilmember Heidi Franco. Franco is also the board president, she says they’re now preparing for their first county landowner meeting.

“We’ve been working all year to prepare for this meeting,” Franco explained. “To get the ordinances in place, the by-laws in place, a packet in place. The application packet for the landowners to use, and we also finalized landowner packets at our meeting. We are finalizing our website, our Facebook page.”

The meeting will be Wednesday September 25th at 7:30 pm at the Wasatch County Senior Citizens Center in the Wasatch County Library. Franco says all landowners are invited to the meeting.

“If you’re interested in open space options in your land, how to get a conservation easement, or other options to preserve your land and receive monetary compensation potentially from the open space bond that was passed last year,” Franco said. “This is the meeting you want to come to.”

Criteria considered for Wasatch County Bond monies include agricultural use of the property, preservation of lands for outdoor recreation or education of the public, viewsheds, costs and feasibility of stewardship and maintenance of the property and many others identified in the county code.

“The criteria that’s in our code comes from IRS requirements,” Franco continued. “It comes from other state and federal requirements. It’s the best practices that we’ve received from qualified Land Trusts. We’ve put all of that in the Wasatch County code.

Those interested can look at the code online, additionally Franco says that the application will be available online. It will also be available at the September 25th meeting. The bond money can be applied to any eligible land in Wasatch County.

“Any landowner, anywhere in the county can apply through the landowner’s packet,” Franco explained. “So, it could be city or County. We want any place in the County, from Hideout, down to Independence, down to Wallsburg, come if you’re interested.”

Those presenting at the meeting include certified land trust organizations Summit Land Conservancy and Utah Open Lands. Franco says they’re also hopeful to get a representative from the Farm Bureau to talk to farmers about conservation easements.

“They keep their land, but they sell their development rights,” Franco continued. “Then they continue to farm or use it as ranch land, grazing, other open space uses. They keep it that same use that they’re doing right now, but they are paid for their development rights. The land is deed restricted through the conservation easement to stay with that type of purpose in perpetuity.”

Recently the Kohler Dairy and Utah Open Lands announced an effort to preserve 100 acres of the dairy farm located on the northeastern end of Midway. The Kohler Dairy could potentially be eligible for funds from both the Midway Open Space Bond and the Wasatch County Bond but Franco says they don’t have any lands pre-targeted.

“The application process is open to anyone that is interested right now,” Franco said. “We all know the areas that we love with our open space views and our beautiful green fields. We’re just excited to work with any landowner that’s interested in using this option. Selling their development rights and having the conservation easement put on their land.”

You can find more information here.

Heber Valley Artisan Cheese held their 2nd annual Ice Sculptures Exhibition this weekend. Several local businesses sponsored the sculptures being displayed. There were also two different ice carving demonstrations. The event was free to the public.

The annual event began last year when Carolee Kohler saw ice sculpting on a Hallmark movie and thought it would be a fun idea for their farm. They are also considering a woodcarving event.

According to Lindsey Strother, social media and events coordinator, each sculpture takes between 1-3 hours to carve. “We contacted Amazing Ice Creations back in November, and we reached out to local companies to sponsor the ice sculptures,” she said. “Yesterday morning around 9 am, they came in a massive truck and dropped them all off for us, and we set them up.”

Along with the ice sculptures, sponsors receive a sign and canopy for the display and social media marketing. The sponsors decide what they want to have sculpted. After the event, they can take the ice sculptures and display them at their businesses. The creations normally last a couple of weeks. Some will be left in the field and can be viewed throughout the week.

The ice this year included Olaf, company logos, animals, and other items. Darron Kingston, the sculptor, has carved ice for over 10 years with his dad. According to Kingston, “I like sculptures that give me a challenge. Here, for example, my favorite was the lumberjack.” One of his favorite past creations was a 9-foot bear.

Grant Kohler, owner of Heber Valley Artisan Cheese, explained, “We decided to do something that was free and something that people could just get out and come and enjoy. Especially this year with Covid, it seems like Januarys are slow months. People are looking for things to be able to get outside and do.” He continued, “Businesses pay in and buy the sculptures, we have them sculpted, and then we just let people come and enjoy them.” Kohler estimated around 3,000 to 4,000 people will stop by the event.

The dairy farm also offers cheese-making classes and tours of their new robotic barn. “The tours are everyday except Sunday,” according to Kohler. “People hayride over, intermingle with the cows, see the barn and amenities, and watch the cows be milked. The cows will literally go get milked on their own.” Tickets for the tours and other events are available on the Heber Valley Artisan Cheese website: https://hebervalleyartisancheese.com/.