From the pages of
Pinedale Roundup
Volume 106, Number 3 - January 15, 2009
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Economic stimulus might help county projects

by Jonathan Van Dyke

Even though Barack Obama’s inauguration is still days away, the president-elect has wasted little time reaching out to the governors of America on his future economic stimulus plan.

While Wyoming has been shielded somewhat from the latest economic recession, Gov. Dave Freudenthal recognized the need for the state’s involvement in a possible stimulus plan going forward.

“As events are unfolding, it clearly would be useful, if not imperative, for Wyoming to participate in the national stimulus package,” Freudenthal wrote Obama in a letter.

To that end, the governor included a list culled by many of his state agencies with projects in need of funding that are ready to move forward.

“Generally, these lists will need further refinement depending on the federal requirements,” Freudenthal said. “Some of the entities providing information to this office have more sophisticated planning operations than others.”

In this extensive list submitted to Obama’s team, Sublette County was not left out. Indeed, the list contains many key infrastructure and wildlife projects that could help create jobs in the area while continuing to abate the energy industry impacts.

“Wyoming’s list of projects and initiatives proposes an ambitious effort to participate in the revitalization of the nation’s economy,” Freudenthal said.

A list of projects included in the governor’s proposal that could impact Sublette County is as follows:

— WYDOT would require $13,892,078 for a total reconstruction of Highway 191 in the Daniel Junction-Hoback/Dell Creek Project. The area affected would run from Bondurant to the mouth of the Hoback Canyon, recreating the two, 12-foot lanes and adding eight-foot shoulders — current shoulders only measure one to two feet.

“It will give people the ability to pull off the road for something like a flat tire and it also gives an additional buffer from running off the road,” said John Eddins, engineer for WYDOT District 3.

— The Big Piney/Marbleton airport was included for construction of a taxilane at the cost of $480,000.

— The State Lands and Investment Board (SLIB) included Big Piney’s street and waterline project at an estimated cost of $7,003,411. The project would allow for the placement of new waterlines and 10 streets to be excavated, stabilized and resurfaced with four inches of asphalt.

Oddly, Pinedale and Marbleton did not make the list, especially after a recent summit with the governor produced similar needs lists for all three towns.

“This was one of those quick turnaround things,” said Rob Tompkins, grants and loans program manager for SLIB. “I don’t think these lists lock in anybody. I’m mindful that there’s a lot of work there [for Pinedale].”

Tompkins noted that Pinedale’s previous application had to be withdrawn due to some language problems, but that he fully expected a revised application in the near future.

— The state requested $17.5 million in both 2009 and 2010 to help combat problems with pine beetle tree-kill and habitat reclamation due to beetle kill.

— Sublette County was included in a number of projects listed by the Wyoming Game and Fish from 2009-2010. Each year comes in a numerical priority list.

“These were projects that we already had identified as needs and had not yet found funding for,” said Eric Keszler, G&F spokesperson. “If we got the funding, they’re ready to go, or pretty much ready to go.”

Projects for 2009 (number signifies priority rank out of 19):

1. Boulder Hatchery Renovation Project: $7 million requested This project consists of modernizing the facility and upgrading infrastructure that is as old as 60 years in some places.

6. Colorado River Cutthroat Trout Restoration at LaBarge Creek: $300,000 requested ($850,000 total cost) This project will construct a permanent fish migration barrier for the recently restored 58-mile section of the LaBarge Creek watershed in order to protect native Colorado River cutthroat trout.

19. South LaBarge Common Allotment Spike Treatment: $5,000 requested This project would treat about 200 acres of crucial mule deer winter range for Wyoming Range mule deer.

Projects for 2010 (number signifies priority rank out of 19):

5. Daniel Hatchery Renovation Project: $5,350,000 requested This project consists of modernizing the facility to better serve the restoration needs of the Bonneville and Colorado River cutthroat trout brood stocks.

6. Fence Inventory and Modifications: $1 million requested ($2 million total cost) This project seeks to replace historic fences that often cause conflicts with migrating wildlife.

7. Wyoming Front Aspen Restoration Project: $900,000 requested ($1.5 million total cost) This project would treat about 9,000 acres of conifer-encroached aspen stands over a 10-year period.

8. Cottonwood Regeneration and Invasive Species Reduction on the Green River: $500,000 requested This project seeks to re-establish or enhance native cottonwoods along portions of the Green River.

19. Fence reconstruction along the National Elk Refuge and Highway 26-89-191: $100,000 requested This project would provide fencing that allows for wildlife jumps across to the National Elk Refuge.

— Aside from his agency lists, Freudenthal also called for creative initiatives to help with renewable energy and coal energy in the state.

“Inadequate infrastructure to move energy from low-cost producers to demand centers has historically hampered the proper working of the energy economy,” he said.

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