Officials propose public land transfer near Toquerville for recreational use, BLM seeks public comment

ST. GEORGE — A proposed land transfer between federal land managers and county water officials is up for public comment until June 1. The land will be used for potential recreational use and is connected to an incoming reservoir near Toquerville .

A map outlining the location of the proposed Toquer Reservoir and the course of the pipeline that will be feeding it, along with highlights of project components along the way | Image courtesy of the Bureau of Land Management, St. George News | Click to enlarge

The Bureau of Land Management announced in mid-April that land managers were considering leasing and patenting nearly 11 acres to the Washington County Water Conservancy District. This piece of ground will be used for camping and other outdoor recreational activity, the BLM stated in a press release.

The 11 acres will sit next to the Toquer Reservoir, a water district project located in the area of Anderson Junction (the junction between Interstate 15 and state Route 17).

The proposed land transfer is a part of a Recreation and Public Purposes Act application that was submitted to the BLM in November 2019 along with accompanying applications for the reservoir and the right-of-way for a 19-mile pipeline that would help fill it.

A public comment period held for the reservoir and pipeline concluded in early December 2019 and was a part of an environmental assessment of the project.

“Our current assessment and previous public comments received tell us that leasing the public lands for a recreation area to the Washington County Water Conservancy District would enhance recreation opportunities for the public by providing a new maintained recreation area for people to enjoy,” Keith Rigtrup, St. George Field Manager, said in a statement. “This action could serve as an example of how the BLM supports local communities and agencies to provide services they, and the public, need.”

Stock photo of the surface of Quail Creek Reservoir, Hurricane, Utah, May 1, 2019 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

The reservoir and pipeline project are estimated to run $34 million, with major construction work set to begin in fall 2022. Once built, the new reservoir will cover 115 acres and have a capacity to hold 3,600 acre-feet of water, making it over half the size of the Kolob Reservoir.

The 19-mile pipeline will run north of the reservoir to the Ash Creek Reservoir near New Harmony. That reservoir was built in the 1960s alongside I-15 and experiences continual water loss due to seepage issues. The pipeline is meant to capture water collected at that reservoir before it is lost.

Runoff from several small canyons along the Black Ridge area will also feed into the proposed reservoir, said Zach Renstrom, general manager of the Washington County Water Conservancy District.

“The key is we will be able to store that water for multiple years now,” Renstrom said. “This will also be some additional groundwater recharge in the aquifers around the area that will be beneficial for those really dry years.”

Stock image, St. George News

As for recreational use, there will be camping by the reservoir that will be managed by nearby Toquerville. Due to its smaller size, the reservoir will be open to non-motorized boats only, Renstrom said.

Along with the incoming reservoir, a new roadway – the Toquerville Bypass – is being built on the west side of Toquerville and will run right by the new reservoir. A new development is planned for the general area.

Public comment

The public is invited to comment on the proposed transfer of the 10.87 acres of public lands that would provide a recreation area next to the proposed reservoir. This comment period is for those submitting comments involving the suitability of the land for development of a recreation area.

Comments on the classification are restricted to whether the land is physically suited for the proposal, whether the use will maximize the future use or uses of the land, whether the use is consistent with local planning and zoning, or if the use is consistent with state and federal programs.

The public may also submit comments regarding the specific use proposed in the application and plan of development and management and whether the BLM followed proper administrative procedures in reaching the decision to lease and convey under the Recreation and Public Purposes Act.

The 45-day comment period began with the publication of the Notice of Realty Action in the Federal Register on April 14, 2021. Comments must be submitted on or postmarked by June 1, 2021 to be considered.

Comments may be emailed to [email protected] or mailed to:

Bureau of Land Management
Attn: Field Manager
345 E Riverside Drive
St. George, Utah 84790

Before including an address, phone number, email address or other personally identifiable information in any comments, be aware the entire comment – including personal identifying information – may be made publicly available at any time. Requests to withhold personal identifying information from public review can be submitted, but the BLM cannot guarantee it will be able to do so.

For additional information, please contact Stephanie Trujillo, Realty Specialist, by email at [email protected] or telephone at 435-688-3343.

Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf may call the Federal Relay Service (FRS) at 1-800-877-8339 to leave a message or question for the above individual. The FRS is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Replies are provided

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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