The oath of office was administered by Judge Brent Dunlap. Dan Jessen was also sworn in as the new county auditor.
Some of the top issues they face for 2017 will be the wild horses in the Iron County area. The controversy continues over the number of wild horses on public lands. According to the Bureau of Land Management website, the BLM manages, protects and controls wild horses and burros under the authority of the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. The law authorizes the BLM to remove excess wild horses and burros from the range to sustain the health and productivity of the public lands.
To promote healthy conditions on the range, the BLM determines what it calls the Appropriate Management Level (AML), which is the number of wild horses and burros that can thrive in balance with other public land resources and uses. Wild horses and burros that exceed AML (currently 26,715) are to be removed from the range, in accordance with the 1971 law, as amended.
The estimated on-range wild horse and burro population (as of March 1, 2016) is 67,027, a 15 percent increase over the 2015 estimate of 58,150. That means the current west-wide on-range population exceeds AML by more than 40,000. The BLM’s finding is that wild horse and burro herds double in size about every four years. Wild horses and burros have virtually no natural predators, thus the reason the herd continues to grow. The BLM states that the population of off-range (unadopted or unsold) wild horses and burros maintained in holding facilities is more than 45,000 as of May 2016.
As always, the issue of public lands is a major concern for the commission and the effect the horses and burros have on the ranchers in Iron County.
Another issue the commission will be tackling this year is the county’s debt service. The priority is getting the debt service to a zero balance. Anderson, Brinkerhoff and Adams voted last year to pay off six buildings which resulted in saving the county an annual payment of about $500,000. The goal is to see this trend continue which includes paying off the courthouse remodel.
The commission meets every other Monday at 9 a.m. The next meeting is scheduled Jan. 9 at the Iron County Commission Chambers located at 69 S. 100 East in Parowan. All subsequent meetings pending the courthouse remodel are slated to be held at the Parowan City Offices on 35 E. 100 North.