From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 1, Number 52 - March 28, 2002
brought to you online by Pinedale Online


Pam Hamilton of Big Piney talks with Sublette County Weed and Pest board members Dan Holgate and Monte Skinner during last weekís public hearing on the proposed hay quarantine. The board eventually voted the proposal down.
Hay quarantine killed

by Cat Urbigkit

Hay quarantine killed

The Sublette County Weed and Pest District board voted 3-2 last Wednesday afternoon to kill its proposed hay quarantine. The vote came after nearly three hours of public testimony on both sides of the issue. When the boardís meeting room at the district office on South Bench Road began to quickly overflow with people, the public hearing was moved to the larger courtroom at the county courthouse in Pinedale.

All five board members attended the session, and appointed Pinedale attorney Bill Twichell as the hearing officer.

Daniel rancher and hay quarantine proponent Doug Vickrey was the first to testify, but first called for a respectful moment of silence in memory of Vera Hittle. Vickrey urged the board to approve the hay quarantine program, stating that it would "cause a financial hardship on no one."

A word of caution came from Boulder rancher Randy Bolgiano, who told the board that while the moral high ground is with the program, "the devil is in the details." Bolgiano cautioned the board to avoid rushing headlong into the program without giving careful consideration of the overall objectives.

Boulder rancher and Green River Valley Cattlemenís Association President Jim Bousman said while the association passed a resolution supporting the hay quarantine, association members did so without having all the pertinent information it needed to make its decision. Bousman chastised the board that "it would have been nice" had the association been informed of the boardís secret meeting where it voted to kill the quarantine, just prior to the associationís vote. However, the association wasnít told of the meeting, and the board later learned that because the meeting wasnít conducted in compliance with state law, its vote to kill the quarantine was null and void. Bousman said, had the association been fully informed of the facts, the outcome of the associationís vote "may have very well have been different."

Sublette County Commissioner Gordon Johnston testified, "I think you were right the first time you voted, when you voted to can it."

Pinedale cattleman Dennis Schroeder testified in support of the quarantine, citing the high cost to control certain weeds once an area has been infested, and the declining real-estate values associated with such infestations.

Big Piney rancher Dan Budd spoke against the program, noting that weeds may enter the county through various other means, from cattle moving into the county for summer range, to oil and workover rig equipment, and roping horses, which "bring it in fertilized." Budd said the proposal penalizes only one group of people "and thatís the ranchers who have to buy hay."

Big Piney rancher Pam Hamilton said, "Weíve got enough government control," while urging the board to reject imposing further regulations. Hamilton said she has purchased more than 1,000 tons of hay this year, and with an added cost of $15 to $25 per ton for the certified hay, "not many people can afford this."

Two Idaho hay producers testified against the proposal, which would require that all hay entering the county be certified as weed-free. They suggested a vigorous weed control program for the county, rather than a dictate on importing certified forages. Steve Shuldberg of Terratown, Idaho, said he hauls more than 5,000 tons of hay into this area, and none of it is certified.

"Iíll guarantee you canít get the hay to feed a third of the cattle here," Shuldberg said, if the quarantine is imposed.

Wayne Barlow said the proposal "is nothing more than a roundabout way to infringe on private-property rights."

Halfway rancher Jim Greenwood said while everyone supports weed control, he feels the board should concentrate on education or other options, rather than the quarantine.

Bondurantís Kevin Campbell said he was adamantly opposed to the quarantine, citing the financial burden.

Pinedale resident Judi Adler, who summers in the Hoback Ranches area, spoke in favor of the quarantine, stating, "This is a problem for all landowners in Sublette County."

When public testimony concluded, the board went into its regular business meeting. Board chairman Ken Shriver made a motion to accept the quarantine, but could not get a second, so the motion died. Shriver said the board had received 20 letters supporting the quarantine, and three against. A rough count of the public testimony had about 13 speaking against the quarantine and five in favor. Others gave testimony but didnít express whether they oppose or supported the proposal.

Board member Dan Holgate made a motion to kill the quarantine proposal, which was seconded by Bob Beard. After debate and discussion, with some members of the public urging the board not to cast their votes at that time, the board voted. Holgate, Beard and Bill Mayo voted to kill the quarantine. Shriver and Monte Skinner voted in opposition

Photo credits:  Cat Urbigkit

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