Submission Number: UBR-DEIS-00391 -- Oral Comment at Public Meeting 

Received: 12/1/2020 12:00:00 AM
Commenter: Jan Ellen Burton

Agency: STB
Initiative: Uinta Basin Railway EIS
Attachments: No Attachments
Submission Text
Can you hear me?


Thank you.· My name is Jan Ellen Burton, and I live in Salt Lake City.· And I was blind-sided by this audacious plan to build the Uinta Basin railway.· The EIS for the railway contains a myriad of aspects which are of concern, including impacts to surface water, wetlands, wildlife and noise, much of which have already been discussed by others.

Given the range of known and potential problems, the plan to mitigate problems as they occur, appears weak at best.

In 1989, I bought land above Argyle Canyon right near the juncture of Highway 191 because of the relatively wild lands.· Cabins in the area were small and there were elk, deer, bear, hawks and owl and coyote in residence.· I could hear the birds in the bushes as I walked along the Forest Service Road and passed in the Ashley National Forest.

In a time in which many species are endangered, the destruction of an expanse of this habitat and water sources seemed unimaginable, let alone the estimated cost of $1.5 to $4.5 billion to destroy these lands.

The March 3, 2020, contribution to a compilation of articles accessible on the Utah and
Native Plant Society's website, indicates that there are at least six sensitive plant species in Argyle Canyon.· I personally have seen two of these.· And I would regularly search for a good rich columbine beneath a particular tree when I go to my property.

This article written by Brian Beam, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Tony Flats, the
Utah Native Plant Society, also shows a picture of a fire.· Of course, all of these native plants are at risk in the event of a fire as is the wildlife.· This fire occurred in Argyle Canyon in 2012.· The same fire burned in Indian Canyon threatening the closing of Highway 191.· It wasn't closed, and it wasn't the first fire to burn in this area.

The Whitmore Alternative is preferred for a number of seemingly good reasons.· Specifically, it reportedly minimizes impacts to wetlands to the extent that is practical, whatever that means, creates fewer impacts to the sage-grouse and avoids more of the residential areas.· And I would add that the land on either side of Route 191 is also less forested than much of Argyle Canyon and it might not burn as easily. However, it is not denuded land and the potential of fire is not at all well addressed in this document.

Safety is considered in terms of minimizing train derailments or spills, but the risk for
significant wildfire is rated as low, as mitigating emergency plans will be put in place.· We have all seen evidence that the effects of wildfires are not easily negated.· This area of Utah has been incredibly dry for a number of years and it will likely continue to be.

I no longer own property there, but it's my former neighborhood, and the question is not whether there will be a big fire, but when?· That is why the Forest Service has been actively cutting dead wood.

Our billions of dollars for a railway may lead to greater costs for repairs for the railway and
in the event of a spark or another event --


-- triggering a fire. Okay.· Thank you.

I'm not sure that oil and gas-related jobs in the Uinta Basin is a good return for this amount of money.· Actually, I am fairly sure a good investment advisor would not think so.· So I urge you to take no action, and thank you for the opportunity to comment.