Castle Valley Comments
April 17, 2014
by Ron Drake
Apr 17, 2014 | 2340 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Those who successfully completed the wildland certification class include: (front row, from left) Josh Paton, Martin Hernandez, Lesley Craig, Randy Ward and (back row, from left) Chris Michaud, Micah Ward, Jeff Fink, Joselyn Buck, Joe Auer, Brent Learned.
Those who successfully completed the wildland certification class include: (front row, from left) Josh Paton, Martin Hernandez, Lesley Craig, Randy Ward and (back row, from left) Chris Michaud, Micah Ward, Jeff Fink, Joselyn Buck, Joe Auer, Brent Learned.
Ten members of the community, both current and future members of the Castle Valley Fire Department, recently completed the 40-hour Wildland Firefighter I certification course. The course was conducted by Utah Valley University in conjunction with the Utah Fire and Rescue Academy (UFRA). The UFRA offers wildland fire training to Utah career and volunteer fire departments. All of the wildland courses exceed requirements of the National Fire Protection Agency and the training provides standardized wildfire training for firefighters to instill professionalism, safety and interagency cooperation. Grand County Fire Warden Mark Marcum taught the course.

The course included the introduction to wildland fire behavior, working with tools and equipment, radio communication, building fire lines and laying hose lines, and a whole host of other topics critical for basic fire fighting tactics. The students completed the course but will now have to complete written and manipulative tests scheduled for later this month by the Utah Fire and Rescue Academy. The firefighters will also have to be able to deploy a fire shelter within 25 seconds and complete a pack test to finish their certification requirements. The pack test involves walking three miles within 45 minutes while carrying a 45-pound pack. The latter two tests must be completed annually by the other eight certified Castle Valley firefighters, in addition to an annual refresher course.

Those who completed the course include Joe Auer, Joselyn Buck, Lesley Craig, Jeff Fink, Martin Hernandez, Brent Learned, Chris Michaud, Josh Paton, Micah Ward, and Randy Ward. They will join the ranks of the squad of certified professional volunteer Castle Valley firefighters.


The Castle Valley Fire Department recently received a $500 grant to help implement a first National Wildfire Community Preparedness Day, which is to be held Saturday, May 3. The effort is spearheaded by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Fire Adapted Communities, and State Farm Insurance.

NFPA said that State Farm, the largest home insurer in the United States, has provided funding to assist with their preparedness day outreach and promotional efforts. Their goal is to raise wildfire awareness, promote collaboration and bring neighbors together to work on projects than can help protect homes, neighborhoods and entire communities form future wildfires.

A group of volunteers will assemble at Town Hall at 9 am on the morning of May 3 to work on a pre-selected home project and provide a defensible space against a wildfire. Volunteers from the community are asked to help with the project.

The State Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands will also provide a wood chipper on May 5 and 6 for those wishing to reduce their pile of tree limbs to usable wood chips. Tree limbs can be placed next to the road or driveway where they are easily assessable by the chipper. Call Bob Lippman at 435-259-1182 to sign up for that free service.


Thirty five years ago this week, the Castle Valley River Ranchos Property Owners Association board of directors met at the Grand County Council Chambers in Moab for its regularly scheduled monthly meeting. Board member Fred Johnson reported receiving delivery confirmation for the new culvert for Castle Creek and Castle Valley Drive for delivery no later than May 12. Johnson asked for help from the community to assemble the culvert as soon as it arrived.

In the meantime, that creek crossing was made a little more passable that week thanks to Earl Hotz and George Wiggins. Wiggins delivered six loads of gravel and Hotz spread the loads with his bulldozer. According to this column: “The road was in poor shape after the rains of early last week.”

The early road crossing was about 100 yards downstream from its current location and it seemed like the road was constantly washing out because of occasional heavy rains that flooded the creek. Merrill Brady was reminiscing recently about the crossing and how the old 6-foot culvert was inadequate to handle the volume of water that would sometimes come down the creek and mentioned other problems associated with the crossing.

To cross the creek back in the day, Castle Valley Drive turned sharply at the creek bank then meandered down to the creek crossing and back up the other side. The south side of the creek received very little sun during the winter months resulting in icy conditions on the road while trying to descend or ascend from the creek crossing, causing traffic congestion at times. A little later in the year when the snow melted, the mud would be so bad that cars got mired in the muck on either side of the creek causing additional traffic jams. Some would elect to leave the vehicle in place until later in the night or early the next morning hoping the road would freeze enough to free their mired vehicle.

When it was obvious that our kids were late getting home from school on the bus I would take my chained-up pickup truck down to the creek and usually find bus driver Richard Stucki down in the muck trying to put tire chains on the rear duals of the bus. I loaded the kids up in the back of the truck and delivered them the rest of the way home. Little did I know then that I would eventually have a career of driving one of the Grand County School buses in Castle Valley for the next 30 years.

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