From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 2, Number 38 - December 19, 2002
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

BLM shuts down powerline installation

by Cat Urbigkit

The county was well on its way to getting power installed at the landfill site located near Marbleton, according to Sublette County Waste Management Supervisor Mike McGinnis, until the Bureau of Land Management shut the project down.

McGinnis told the Sublette County Commissioners Tuesday that the county has an 80-foot easement for the county road traversing over BLM land into the landfill, and the county was to have the new power line installed within that easement.

But the BLM intervened, stating that an archeological survey needed to be conducted and Pacific Power had to obtain a utility easement from the federal agency, McGinnis said.

"So they are holding us up," McGinnis reported. Disagreeing with the BLM, the commissioners responded by passing a motion granting the county the authority to construct a powerline within its county road easement.

McGinnis questioned the commission about what his next move should be, so the commission decided to consult via telephone with BLM Field Manager Prill Mecham about the problem.

Mecham explained there seemed to be a fundamental misunderstanding about the county's easement across BLM land.

"It's a BLM right-of-way granted to the county ... but it is not an exclusive right-of-way," Mecham said. While the right-of-way grants the county the right to build and maintain a road, Mecham said, the county "has no authority" to grant rights to other parties, such as to the power company for the utility line.

"The power company has got to come into BLM and get a right-of-way," Mecham said. "Pacific Power still needs to get a ROW from us,"

... That's how that works."

McGinnis challenged Mecham's view that the county lacks the authority to allow the laying of utility lines within its rights-of-way, stating that the county has operated in that manner "all along" and the county has granted such permission in the past for work on county roads across BLM lands.

"All of the sudden here we are, hung up," McGinnis said.

Mecham suggested McGinnis meet with officials from her agency to hammer out a resolution to the problem.

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