Volume 3, Number 30 - October 23, 2003
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Water development board
Although Sublette County has already made its appointments to the tri-county joint powers board for Green River Basin water development, the other counties haven't acted so quickly, although progress is being made.
Lincoln County Commissioner Kathy Davison said Wednesday that although the commission advertised for interested parties, the commission did not receive any applications from residents interested in serving on the board. Davison said she plans to spend some time drumming up interest and hopes the commission will be able to appoint the two representatives within the next two weeks.
Sweetwater County Commissioners made their appointments earlier this week, with two local attorneys getting seats on the board. Stan Cannon was appointed to a one-year term, while John Zebre was appointed to a two-year term.
Sublette County's representatives to the board include Randy Bolgiano and John Andrikopoulos.
Surface owner damage legislation
House District 22 Representative Monte Olsen and HD 19 Representative Owen Peterson will hold an informal hearing at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 28 at the Daniel Community Center. The purpose of the hearing is to discuss proposed surface owner damage legislation that may be considered at the Joint Judiciary Interim Committee meeting scheduled for Oct. 30 and 31 in Cody.
Any surface owners who wish to voice their opinions concerning this issue should attend, Olsen reported. Olsen and Peterson are interested in hearing from all landowners.
More information about the joint judiciary meeting in Cody can be obtained by going to legisweb.state.wy.us.
Pine Creek instream flow
The Wyoming State Engineer's Office reported this week that a decision is currently being written for the instream flow applications for Pine Creek.
"It is coming soon," said Jeff Geyer of the state water office, adding that the draft decision will first be reviewed by State Engineer Pat Tyrrell and the state's attorneys, so it will be at least several weeks before the public learns what that decision states.
An instructional video and CD proposed for production this spring will help backcountry travelers set up and use a newly developed bear deterrent fence.
The Missoula Technology and Development Center will produce a 20-minute video and CD with instructions on how to assemble, use and field-test a lightweight electric fence system being developed by the National Outdoor Leadership School
in Lander. The fence system is designed to help backpackers, horse packers and other recreation enthusiasts safely store food while recreating in the backcountry. The fence works to condition bears to avoid human food much like electric fences work to contain domestic livestock. Under the direction and support of the Forest Service, NOLS has been developing the fence for use in backcountry areas such as those above timberline where food cannot be hung out of the reach of bears.
NOLS curriculum manager and the bear fence's primary designer, John Gookin, first tested the fences with captive bears. It has since undergone further use and testing by Wyoming Game and Fish biologists and NOLS groups in the Wind River and Absaroka Ranges and other areas and has so far proven very effective at deterring bears. Gookin and his NOLS team have been working to develop a field grade charger with a stronger, waterproof case and to make the fence system smaller and lighter.
"We've been talking about this product for some time," said Deputy Forest Supervisor Brent Larson of the Bridger-Teton National Forest. "The Forest Supervisor and I are very excited to see improvements and applications of the product are encouraged by the MTDC efforts to help people understand the proper application of electric fences in the back country. We feel that when used properly the electric deterrent fences can provide forest users, outfitters and livestock operators an efficient and effective method to store food and other attractants in the backcountry."
Governor on instream flow
Governor Dave Freudenthal covered a wide gamut of issues over two hours of testimony before a legislative committee earlier this week.
Freudenthal, along with several administration officials, traveled to Newcastle for a meeting of the Joint Agriculture, Public Lands and Water Resources Interim Committee. Accompanying the governor were Office of State Lands and Investments Director Lynne Boomgaarden, State Forester Bill Crapser and Wyoming Water Development Director Mike Besson.
Committee co-chair Sen. Gerry Geis, R-Worland, invited the governor to attend the meeting and share his thoughts on the broad topics of water and forest management issues.
Among other subjects, Freudenthal explained his administration's desire to remain very active in federal planning for the national forests within Wyoming. He also supports counties' efforts to remain active in forest planning, which is why he believes they should not be limited by state actions. Until a few months ago, counties and the state established one unified position that they would then take to the U.S. Forest Service in forest plan discussions.
"It's not entirely appropriate for the governor or the governor's people, in a policy context, to force counties to come to an agreement with the state," Freudenthal said. "If it's important to them, they'll do it. If it's not important to them, there's no reason, frankly, for the state to be doing it for them. It is complex, and I think that complexity is better reflected by the counties' participating directly."
The governor covered several forest-related topics, including introducing Crapser, who began his new job this week, before discussing water development. Freudenthal told legislators that he supports both conservation easements and instream flow.
"I support them as a matter of respect for private property," Freudenthal said, explaining that he believes land and water owners should be able to pursue their private property rights to the fullest extent of the law.
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