From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 2, Number 41 - January 9, 2003
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

PDR group recommends pilot program

by Cat Urbigkit

Members of the Sublette County Purchase of Dev-elopment Rights (PDR) Working Group attended Monday's Sublette County Commission meeting to discuss progress on gaining public input on the idea of implementing a county-funded PDR program.

The commission is slated to decide at its Jan. 21 meeting whether to re-appoint the working group to design and develop a pilot PDR program for the county.

Last August, the Green River Valley Land Trust requested the county commission create a working group to examine the possibility of creating a PDR program to be funded with tax revenues. The commission agreed to do so and appointed the members of the group (Albert Sommers, Nancy Espenscheid, Jo Crandall, Tom Davenport and Bernie Holz).

Holz told the commission Monday that the group was recommending a pilot program be established, developed through the re-appointment of the working group, with assistance from a hired consultant and a part-time staff person. In addition, $25,000 would need to be allocated to pay for the consultant, the staff person and other expenses. Then seed money for an actual project would be needed as well, if the county decided to move forward with the program.

Holz said the group is proposing to develop a draft of a pilot program and make that draft available for community review and input. The group would review the input, make any changes it deemed necessary, and then take the proposal to the commission for a decision whether or not to move forward with the program.

Holz said with the commission's approval, the working group could complete its design of the pilot program by the commission's April 15 meeting.

Sommers explained to the commission that the group believed its charge was to gather public input. He emphasized, "at no time did we vote" on whether the county should proceed with the program. Had a vote been taken, Sommers said, the vote certainly would not have been unanimous.

Sommers told the commissioners that if it decides to continue the efforts of the working group in developing a draft pilot program: "I can no longer serve on that working group. I will step down from that effort."

Rancher Jane Wardell said if the purpose of doing a PDR program is to save working ranches, "you're not saving agriculture by splitting estates."

The working group gave each county commissioner a notebook of information for consideration, including a summary of the results of the recent PDR surveys that were printed in the newspapers. Copies of these notebooks will also be made available for public review in the county libraries, Holz said.

A total of 211 completed newspaper surveys were received.

The three top-ranking items to survey respondents were clean air and water; wildlife and wildlife habitat; and private property rights. Agriculture was 11th in the ranking of 14 items.

To the question, "Should Sublette County create a PDR program?" 107 people responded "No," while 87 responded in the affirmative. The majority of those responding also indicated that the decision should be put to a public vote in a special election (two-to-one in favor of election).

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