From the pages of
The Sublette County Journal
Volume 4, Number 21 - 1/20/00
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

County Takes Over Skyline Drive Plowing
Commissioners fed up with Forest Service, Stuart Thompson
by Rob Shaul

Citing public safety concerns, the Sublette County Commissioners voted Tuesday to take over responsibility for plowing Skyline Drive to the White Pine ski area for the remainder of the winter. The commission has received several complaints about the condition of the road, and one of the commissioners, Betty Fear, has personally traveled the road and described the condition as dangerous. Neither Bill Cramer nor Gordon Johnston has personally driven the road.

So far this winter, White Pine Ski Area and owner Stuart Thompson have been plowing the road without compensation from the Forest Service, county or anyone else. Originally, the county, USFS, Town of Pinedale, and Pinedale School District intended to contract with Mr. Thompson to plow the road and three parking lots used by Nordic skiers and snowmobilers off Skyline Drive. However, last week Mr. Thompson said he had not signed a contract nor received any compensation for plowing the road. Further, Mr. Thompson said he had no intention of plowing the parking lots.

Pinedale District Ranger Bob Reese eventually contracted with Melvin McLoughlin to plow the parking lots, which was done last week.

On Tuesday, Skyline Drive plowing was again a topic of discussion amongst the commissioners who were confused by the current status of the agreement with Mr. Thompson and what exactly was the arrangement for the parking lots.

In December, the commission agreed to amend the District Court Judge's injunction in the legal case with Mr. Thompson over the commercial use of his James Lane property above Pinedale, so he could use the property to house the plow truck used for Skyline Drive. At that meeting, Mr. Thompson and his attorney agreed to apply for a conditional use permit for the White Pine-related activity occurring at the James Lane property. However, as of Tuesday, Mr. Thompson had not applied for the permit.

This deeply angered both Betty Fear and Gordon Johnston who had agreed to amend the Judge's injunction with the understanding that Mr. Thompson would apply for the permit. Ms. Fear expressed the feeling that Mr. Thompson had purposely used the Board to get the Judge's injunction amended and had no intention of applying for the conditional use permit. The commission instructed the County Planner and County Attorney to send a letter to Mr. Thompson instructing him to apply for the permit and said it would consider asking the Judge to re-amend the injunction at its February 1 meeting if the conditional use permit has not been applied for.

Concerning plowing, the commission expressed frustration and confusion with Mr. Reese and the Forest Service about the status of the contract with White Pine. The commission was angered that it was getting calls on something that was the responsibility of White Pine and the Forest Service (Skyline Drive is a Forest Service road). After much discussion, Chairman Bill Cramer argued that the commission "bite the bullet" and commit to plowing the road in the interest of public safety and recreation. Mr. Johnston and Ms. Fear reluctantly agreed, fully aware that the eventual cost will surely exceed the $500 they had budgeted for the work.

The board instructed Road & Bridge Supervisor Mike McGinnis to contract with Mark Reneau for the Skyline Drive plowing and maintenance. Mr. Reneau had the contract last year.

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Copyright © 1999 The Sublette County Journal
All rights reserved. Reproduction by any means must have permission of the Publisher.
The Sublette County Journal, PO Box 3010, Pinedale, WY 82941   Phone 307-367-3713
Publisher/Editor: Rob Shaul