From the pages of
The Sublette County Journal
Volume 4, Number 23 - 2/3/00
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Commissioners Frustrate Konicek, Give Skyline Plowing Back to White Pine!

by Rob Shaul

Plowing Skyline Drive was once again an issue at Tuesday's County Commissioner meeting. At their last meeting, the commissioners, fed up with the Forest Service and White Pine, and on the receiving end of numerous complaints about the road, voted to pay a private contractor to plow Skyline Drive.

Tuesday, after paying a private contractor $747 to work on the road's bad spots, the commissioners were satisfied that Skyline Drive was finally in good shape, and decided to give the plowing responsibility back to the Forest Service and White Pine. According to commissioner Gordon Johnston of Daniel, he had spoken to Pinedale District Ranger Bob Reese and Mr. Reese told him that Stuart Thompson and White Pine would go ahead and plow Skyline Drive, including the three parking lots used by Nordic skiers. There was no discussion of any contract with White Pine, so it's assumed that the ski area will plow the road without compensation from the County or Forest Service.

All three commissioners expressed sentiment that they had "done the right thing" by stepping in and hiring a private contractor to plow the road for this short time. They agreed to forward all ensuing complaints about the plowing job to the Forest Service, and said they would step back in with a private contractor if needed.

South of Town Speed Limits

Ken Konicek submitted an 88-signature petition to the commission requesting it reverse its decision last month to lower the speed limit on the twin bridges road south of Pinedale, Granite Lane and Stone Trail. The commissioners lowered the speed limits on these three roads from 35 mph to 20 mph based on recommendations from the Pinedale Anticline Transportation Planning Committee, of which Gordon Johnston is a member. The Committee was addressing safety concerns about oil field traffic traveling on these roads.

The lowered speed limits surprised Mr. Konicek, who lives in one of the subdivisions south of town, and several other of the subdivision residents. On Tuesday, he presented the commissioners with a petition calling on the commissioners to increase the speed limit on the twin bridges road to 30 mph for cars and light trucks from the town limits to the junction with Granite Lane. The speed limit for heavy trucks and semis on the twin bridges road would remain at 20 mph.

The petition further called for the speed limit on Granite Lane and Stone Trail to be returned to 35 mph, and that signs for no through truck traffic be posted.

Commission Chairman Bill Cramer of Bondurant was open to the petition and increasing the speed limits. "If this is what people want," he told Mr. Konicek, "I have no problem responding to it."

However, both Betty Fear of Big Piney and Gordon Johnston were unwilling to take action on the petition without discussing the issue with the Anticline Transportation Planning Committee. "I'm not going to can what we've done so far without presenting a reason for the change to the committee," Mr. Johnston told Mr. Konicek.

A frustrated Mr. Konicek responded that he and most of those which signed the petition felt the Anticline Committee made a recommendation without input from the residents who would be most affected by the reduced speed limit.

However, Mr. Johnston and Betty Fear were not swayed by this argument, and would not raise the speed limits on the three roads without consulting with the full Anticline Transportation Committee whose next meeting is scheduled for March 1.

Mr. Konicek said he would attend that meeting and would encourage many of his neighbors to also attend.

"Shooting Sports Complex" Reversal

Next it was Mr. Johnston's turn to be frustrated. Since last summer, the Pinedale Sporting Clays Association has been working with the County and the BLM to find a location for a proposed "shooting sports complex" near Pinedale. Specifically, the Sporting Clays Association wants the BLM to transfer land for the complex to the County, which would allow the construction of the shooting sports complex.

Two proposed sites for the complex have been identified. The one preferred by the Sporting Clays Association is located off the Fremont Lake Road. The other site is off the Industrial Site road west of Pinedale.

Last month, the BLM requested input from the County Commissioners on which site they prefer for the complex. Mr. Johnston represented the commissioners at meeting concerning the two locations. The Wyoming Department of Game & Fish is concerned that the proposed location off the Fremont Lake Road will interfere with the deer migration corridor and Mr. Johnston agreed. At the last meeting in January, Mr. Johnston made this argument to the other commissioners, and the Commission drafted a letter to the BLM stating that it preferred the Industrial Site location for the shooting sports complex.

Tuesday, members of the Pinedale Sporting Clays Association asked the Commission to reconsider. Association members Tom Thompson and Eric Petersen argued that the operation of the shooting complex would be restricted for six weeks in the spring and fall to mitigate its impacts on deer migration. Further, they said the Industrial Site location was much less preferable because costs of constructing the complex would be significant greater due to poor soil at that location.

Mr. Johnston responded that he was concerned about the long-term growth of the complex and its potential future affects on migration, however, both Betty Fear and Bill Cramer were persuaded by the Sporting Clays Association's arguments. Mr. Cramer said he wanted to support the efforts of the Association. Ms. Fear said she felt the Game & Fish could advocate for the deer without the County's help.

Ultimately, over the strong objection of Mr. Johnston, Mr. Cramer and Ms. Fear voted to withdraw the commission's letter to the BLM advocating the Industrial Site location for the shooting complex.

"You have just taken a step to screw up one of the migration routes through the county," Mr. Johnston told his fellow commissioners. He continued, "You two have disappointed me more this afternoon than at any other time I have served with you."

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The Sublette County Journal, PO Box 3010, Pinedale, WY 82941   Phone 307-367-3713
Publisher/Editor: Rob Shaul