From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 6, Number 41 - January 4, 2006
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Reporter's Notes

Besson out, Purcell returns

Former longtime director of the Wyoming Water Development Commission Mike Purcell is returning to the post, according to a release from Governor Dave Freudenthal.

Freudenthal appointed Purcell, who will take over the position in March, to succeed Lawrence “Mike” Besson, who recently announced his resignation as director.

Purcell, a Republican, directed the Wyoming Water Development Program from 1983 to 1996, appointed by former Wyoming governors Ed Herschler, Mike Sullivan and Jim Geringer. In 1996, Purcell started his own consulting firm, specializing in water resource management, environmental permitting, government liaison work and dispute resolution. The firm assisted the state of Wyoming in the negotiations related to the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program.

Haws replaces Crow

Governor Dave Freudenthal has appointed longtime Jackson attorney Curt Haws to the Sublette County Circuit Court bench.

Haws, 47, succeeds Judge John Crow, who is retiring at the end of the month. He joins Judge Robert Denhardt, Judge Wesley Roberts and Judge Timothy Day in the Ninth Judicial District, which oversees Fremont, Sublette and Teton counties.

“I am humbled and honored by the Governor’s appointment,” Haws said. “The opportunity to serve the people of Wyoming in this capacity is one that I eagerly anticipate.”

For the past 13 years, Haws has served as general counsel and vice president of Town Square Inns in Jackson. For the past seven years, he has also served as a district court commissioner for the Ninth Judicial District. He has also been a magistrate for Teton County Circuit Court for the past three years.

Haws holds bachelor’s and law degrees from Brigham Young University in Utah, as well as a master’s degree in Chinese law from Beijing’s Tsing Hua University.

“I’m delighted to appoint Curt to the Circuit Court bench,” Freudenthal said. “He brings a wealth of experience, an expansive intellect and a true commitment to the judiciary in Wyoming.”

Before joining Town Square Inns, Haws was an attorney with Mullikin, Larson & Swift in Jackson. While with the private law firm, he handled civil cases and provided legal services for the town of Jackson and was counsel for the Teton County School District. He previously worked for private law firms in Salt Lake City and Los Angeles. He is admitted to the state bars in Wyoming, Utah and California.

“I have big shoes to fill,” Haws said. “I hope that the Sublette County Circuit Court will continue to be a forum where litigants and attorneys will feel that they are fully and fairly heard, and where the promise of the best legal system in the world will continue to be realized.”

Grouse plan

The Upper Green River Basin Sage-Grouse Working Group has completed its work on a draft conservation plan for sage-grouse and the plan is now available for public review. The group will hold a public meeting to present and discuss the plan on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2007, at the Pinedale Library from 6-8 p.m.

The plan takes a comprehensive look at sage-grouse in the Upper Green River Basin. In addition to providing a wealth of background information on sage-grouse, the plan also identifies current issues affecting sage-grouse in the area and recommends a number of research and management actions to address these problems.

The plan is also available for review on the Wyoming Game and Fish Department website at: /wildlife_management/sagegrouse/index.asp Printed copies of the draft plan are available at the Pinedale and Big Piney public libraries.

The group requests written comments be sent via e-mail to Mark Gocke at or Wyoming Game and Fish Department, P.O. Box 67, Jackson, WY 83001. Written comments will be accepted through January 31, 2007.

Bald eagles

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a draft environmental assessment of the definition of “disturb” under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act in the Dec. 12 Federal Register, opening a 30-day public comment period. The Eagle Protection Act and this definition, if approved, will be used to manage the bald eagle if it is removed from the federal list of threatened and endangered species.

The revised definition reads as follows: “Disturb means to agitate or bother a bald or golden eagle to the degree that causes injury or death to an eagle (including chicks or eggs) due to interference with normal breeding, feeding, or sheltering behavior, or nest abandonment. Injury would be defined as “a wound or other physical harm, including a loss of biological fitness significant enough to pose a discernible risk to an eagle’s survival or productivity.”

To learn more, check out the FWS bald eagle website at http://migratorybirds.

Energy corridor

After receiving hundreds of comments in response to the release of preliminary working maps, the interagency team analyzing potential environmental effects of designating energy corridors in 11 Western States has decided that additional time will be needed to consider these comments as the agencies conduct an environmental review of proposed corridor locations.

In order to ensure full consideration of the more than 200 comments and suggestions on the preliminary maps, project managers from the Department of Energy, the Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management, the Department of Agriculture-Forest Service, and the Department of Defense will take additional time to refine the alternatives to be presented in the draft programmatic environmental impact statement.

The BLM and the Forest Service also must ensure that proposed routes and the analysis of their impacts are consistent with the resource management plans for lands they manage. The public will have an additional opportunity to comment on the Draft PEIS after it is published.

Corridors designated through this process will represent preferred locations for pipelines and electricity transmission and distribution infrastructure in the West. Future projects proposed for these corridors will undergo further environmental review before necessary permits and rights-of-way would be granted.

Details about the PEIS and opportunities for public involvement in the designation are available on the project website:

BLM director resigns

Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne announced the resignation of Bureau of Land Management Director Kathleen Clarke, who is returning to her home state of Utah to rejoin her family.

Kempthorne commended Clarke for her strong leadership since she became director in January 2002, successfully enhancing recreational opportunities on BLM lands while at the same time expediting environmentally sensitive domestic energy production on federal lands.

Zakotnik reappointed to wild horse board

The Bureau of Land Management has announced new appointments to its National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board. The nine-member board advises both the BLM (an agency of the U.S. Interior Department) and Forest Service (an agency of the U.S. Agriculture Department) on the management, protection, and control of wild horses and burros that roam Western public rangelands.

New to the Advisory Board is Melissa Scott of Decatur, Tenn., who is a teacher, trainer, and competitor in the horse community and an adopter of a wild horse. Scott will serve as the public interest representative on the board, whose members represent a balance of interests.

Newly re-appointed members are Gary Zakotnik of Eden, a rancher who is the board’s livestock management representative; Larry Johnson of Reno, Nev., President of the Coalition for Nevada’s Wildlife, as well as Director of Nevada Bighorn Unlimited, who serves as the board’s wildlife management representative; and Richard Sewing of Cedar City, Utah. Sewing, who manages the National Mustang Association ranch and sanctuary, had served as the board’s wild horse and burro advocacy representative from 2000-2003; as a re-appointed member, he will now serve as the humane advocacy representative.

Advisory Board members serve three-year terms, on a staggered-term basis, with one-third of the Board subject to appointment each year. The board meets at least two times a year and the BLM Director may call additional meetings when necessary. 

The 1971 law mandates the protection, management, and control of wild horses and burros in a manner that ensures healthy herds at levels consistent with the land’s capacity to support them. About 31,000 wild horses and burros roam BLM-managed rangelands in 10 Western states.

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