From the pages of
The Sublette County Journal
Volume 4, Number 38 - 5/18/00
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Commissioners Briefed on Roadless Initiative
District Rangers says oil & gas, timbering will be most affected
by Rob Shaul

Pinedale District Ranger Bob Reese briefed the Sublette County Commissioners on the Clinton Administration's Roadless Initiative at the commissioners' regular meeting on Tuesday.

The commissioners were told that the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Roadless Initiative had just been released and the preferred alternative "eliminates road construction or re-construction of roads in roadless areas," says Mr. Reese.

Mr. Reese explained that the Forest Service determined which areas were "Roadless" based on the RARE II study completed in the 1970s. Based on that study, just 18% of the Bridger-Teton Forest is not in a roadless area, said Mr. Reese. Likewise, just 15% of the Pinedale District is outside a roadless area.

Despite these sweeping figures, Mr. Reese said if it goes through, the initiative will not result in the destruction or closure of any roads currently classified in the Forest Service's transportation plan. These roads, along with a 1/4-mile buffer, will be exempt from the rule, and will remain open and can be maintained. Motorized vehicles will still be able to travel the roads. "Basically, in the areas where there are roads, these will be excluded from the rule," explained Mr. Reese.

Mr. Reese said oil and gas development and timbering will be most affected by the initiative if it goes through - simply because new roads will not be able to be constructed to support these activities.

The Forest Service is accepting public comments on the 700-page Draft EIS through July 17, said Mr. Reese. There will be an informational public meeting on the proposal in Marbleton on June 1.

"I'm still trying to decide, really, how it's going to affect my life and the lives of my grandchildren and I still haven't figured that out," Gordon Johnston told Mr. Reese after listening to the Ranger's presentation.

"I just think it's going to eliminate access for a lot of people," said Betty Fear. Bill Cramer half-kiddingly suggested that the Forest Service give people in Sublette County a permit so they could use the roads as they wanted, an applied the new role to tourists.

Mr. Reese expects the final decision on the rule to be published sometime this fall, "sometime before the election."

Hockey Rink Roof

Dave Bell of the Sublette County Recreation Board and Greg Noble of the Pinedale Hockey Association formally asked the commissioners to consider funding a new roof for the Pinedale Hockey Rink. The estimated cost of the new roof is $295,000.

Mr. Noble told the board that in four years the Pinedale Hockey Association had raised$307,000 in private funding and last winter, Hockey-generated activities had brought over $500,000 into Pinedale's economy. Mr. Noble said a new roof would allow the Hockey Association to keep the natural ice longer, decrease its operating costs, and increase the number of games, which would be scheduled and played in Pinedale.

For the most part, the commissioners were open to the proposal, but told Messrs. Noble and Bell that higher on the county's priority list was a $4 million project to construct more office space for county government and update and enlarge the county jail. "Whether there's going to be any roof for these types of projects, I have my doubts," said Mr. Cramer. "I wouldn't hold out much hope," he concluded.

The commissioners did tell Mr. Bell that they would support the Rec Board setting aside money each year to eventually construct the new roof.

Other News

Boyd Anderson submitted a petition to the commissioners to increase the speed limit on the Fayette/Pole Creek Road. The petition was signed by several homeowners whose property sits along the road, which has a current speed limit of 40 mph. The commissioners directed Road & Bridge Supervisor Mike McGinnis and Sheriff Hank Ruland to conduct a study and report back with a recommendation.

The commissioner amended the County Zoning Regulations to increase the gravel pit conditional use permit review period from 2 to 5 years. They also created a new county zoning designation for multi-family units.

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Publisher/Editor: Rob Shaul