From the pages of
Pinedale Roundup
Volume 106, Number 11 - March 12, 2009
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Year-round drilling helps local economy

by Stephen Crane

While the rest of the nation rides the economic rollercoaster with bated breath, Sublette County is largely insulated from the national crisis.

Local energy development plays a pivotal role, buffering the financial downturn by providing jobs and injecting the local economy with monies from the necessary workforce.

In September of 2008, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued the Record of Decision (ROD) for the Pinedale Anticline Project Area (PAPA), which, among other things, allowed for year-round development in the energy field.

The rippling effect of this allowance has been felt not only by the energy companies themselves, but also by local businesses, which are providing daily services to the energy personnel.

“We are definitely up this winter than we were last winter,” said Sue Kerr, manager at the Best Western Pinedale Inn. “I would say an average of 35 percent increase from last year.”

Other area motels, however, have seen no increase, if not a decrease.

“It seems like we’re doing relatively the same at this point,” said Serena Lindahl, manager of the Pine Creek Inn. “However, it also seems like the majority of my clients are in construction or short-term workers.”

“Our numbers are down compared to past years,” said Peggy Maw, owner of Teton Court Motel. “It’s definitely been the slowest it’s been for the past six years.”

Most agree that the number of workers staying in their establishment has increased, but a problem has been the drop in winter tourism.

In years past, the area saw more outdoor enthusiasts coming into town throughout the winter season. This year, however, the trend shows that people are less inclined to make the trip.

“(We’re) about the same,” said Robert Brito, owner of Sundance Motel. “I could see an upswing in the number in future years, but it was counteracted with the economic downturn. Tourists are down, but energy contractors are up.”

The story is the same in many of the area eating establishments. Some are up. Others aren’t.

“My boss just told me today that we’d actually done better this year than last year,” said Subway manager Linda Nixon.

For the Wrangler Café, which serves a large contingent of energy workers, the numbers this winter have remained about the same, according to manager Ariel Gudino.

In some ways, the effects of year-round drilling have been a benefit to Pinedale’s Town Hall, allowing it to make the necessary adjustments to population and infrastructure demands.

“It gives us more opportunity to plan,” said Mayor Stephen Smith. “If we know exactly what’s going to be here every year, it gives us more opportunity to plan for population increases.”

The 2008 ROD that allows year-round drilling will dictate development on the PAPA for many years to come, which should help facilitate steady population growth, rather than the fluctuating numbers associated with seasonal drilling.

Despite the nation’s economic downturn, the Pinedale area has already seen the financial benefits of winter drilling, which have helped stave off the local downswing.

“We are just grateful for everything we have in this economic downturn,” said Sofia Wakefield, owner of the Log Cabin Motel. “Everything is interconnected, but (the local economy) is less drastically affected.”

See The Archives for past articles.

Copyright © 2009 Pinedale Roundup
All rights reserved. Reproduction by any means must have permission of the Publisher.
Pinedale Roundup, PO Box 100, Pinedale, WY 82941   Phone 307-367-2123