County needs land survey responses | CraigDailyPress.com

County needs land survey responses

Researchers look to landowners, residents for land use, planning data

Ryan Sheridan

What Moffat County will look like, and how the land and resources are utilized in the near and not-so-near future, are the subjects of two surveys the Moffat County Commissioners have requisitioned and sent out to 1,900 local households.

The project is a cooperative study conducted by the University of Wyoming’s Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension Service, and Moffat County. In charge of this cooperative effort is Donald M. McLeod, Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics at the University of Wyoming.

“I encourage people that receive these surveys to fill them out. This is an opportunity for people to help shape the future of what Moffat County will look like in the years to come,” said Jeff Comstock, director of the Moffat County Natural Resources Department. “These surveys were sent out in March, and those households that didn’t return the survey received a reminder notice. A registered letter will also be sent soon if the surveys still aren’t returned.

“This information is important, and we hope to get as many responses as we can,” Comstock said.

The first survey focuses on gathering information for revision of the Moffat County Comprehensive Master Plan. The second survey will focus on resident’s preferences for the management of Federal aid in the county. The information gathered will also be used for the University of Wyoming’s Agricultural Lands Project, Comstock said.

“We are looking to gather information on how the residents of Moffat County want us to handle several issues. These include the viability of agricultural industry, multiple-use policies for federal lands, special land designations, urban sprawl, land easements; we want the citizens to define their expectations for land management in Moffat County for the near and distant future,” Comstock said.

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The survey will cover two types of households: Landowners in Moffat County who may or may not live here, and the residents of Moffat County.

It is on the subject of land easements that Moffat County resident Randy Menge reacted strongly to.

“I feel the survey is really pushing conservation easements, and I don’t think people realize the long term consequences of a policy like that,” Menge said.

The policy of permanently locking in land for agricultural production is dangerous in this day and age, because the government supplies Third World countries with modern technology and techniques, equipment and seed supply at no cost, Menge said. Coupled with the cheap labor that exists in Third World countries, these countries have a huge and unfair advantage over farmers in this country.

“U.S. producers can’t compete with these countries our government gives all these advantages to, and locking in land for agriculture industry could cause people to have to sell their land at a fraction of its worth, ” Menge said. “We can’t know what’s going to happen in the future, and with agriculture as it is now, these easements could be very damaging if the producers here in the United States continue to be put at a disadvantage.”

The expression of opinions like Menge’s is exactly what this survey is about, Comstock said, but stressed that the survey in no way endorses any of the policies or opinions it is asking for a response on.

“The survey is designed to find out what people want the county to do in terms of land management in our area. With land easements in particular, we only want to know if the people of Moffat County want us to consider using easements as a land management tool in the future. We’re asking ‘should this be an option for land owners in the future?’,” Comstock said. “If the residents feel this is a policy they want in their area, we’ll investigate it further. If people come out against it, then we won’t consider it as a policy option. We are asking the public in what ways do they want Moffat County to manage land issues in the coming years.”

Preliminary results from this survey should be available this June, Comstock said.

“If anyone has any questions about this survey, they are welcome to call me.”

For more information, or questions regarding the cooperative study, contact Jeff Comstock at the CSU Extension office at 824-9180.

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