Prairie dogs discussed at ICHBA luncheon


By Kelsey Keener

kelsey@ironcounty.com

CEDAR CITY–The Iron County Home Builders Association General Membership Luncheon last Thursday featured a presentation by Jessica Van Woeart on prairie dog policies.

ICHBA President Ben Batty welcomed guests and recognized any new members before a reading of the ICHBA’s code of ethics. After announcements from committees, Utah Prairie Dog Management Biologist Van Woeart was introduced.

Van Woeart briefed builders on the new General Conservation Plan for prairie dogs and the effects it will have on new projects. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently adopted the GCP in an effort to help the conservation of the Utah prairie dog and make building processes less demanding. Under this plan, Iron County is a master permit holder. This will greatly reduce the amount of time required for builders to get the necessary permits to build on land inhabited by prairie dogs. The GCP also reduces the need for surveys, only requiring them on previously mapped prairie dog colonies.

Van Woeart went over some of the relevant terms necessary to understand the new plan, as well as the steps required for builders to obtain the necessary permits and permissions to build. Some of the benefits of this new plan include lower fees for small project, streamlined processes with a master permit holder, permits will be valid for longer, and minimization and mitigation measures will aid in habitat recovery.

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