SWC Commission Calls For Public Comment Before Revisiting Wilderness Study Area Issue At Next Meeting

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SWEETWATER COUNTY — The Sweetwater County Commissioners decided to delay making any decisions about how to proceed with the issue of Wilderness Study Areas in the county, citing a need for public comment.

Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney’s efforts to craft a bill that would address all of the WSA areas in the state has some of the stakeholders crying foul, according to WYOFILE.

All but two counties in Wyoming are working through the Wyoming Public Lands Initiative.

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The WPLI was started to address federal inaction on the subject.

Lincoln and Sweetwater County both decided to opt out of the initiative. 

Commissioner Wally Johnson noted the issue goes back 38 years when he offered a less than shining opinion of Congress’s track record on the topic.

All of the Commissioners spoke about their personal opinions of what should be done. Their suggestions ranged from supporting the removal of all the WSA designations in the county and relying on their official powers to safeguard areas such as Adobe Town until a permanent solution can be found; to using 1991 BLM recommendations or voting to not support the removal at all.

While their individual opinions varied they all asked that the public contact them to express their wishes for the large tracts of land covered by the WSA designations before deciding to place the issue on their next meeting agenda.

Commissioner Johnson had previously sent a letter to Cheney expressing his personal views on the future of WSA in Sweetwater County.

The other commissioners have expressed concern that the letter might be taken as the board’s official position.

Johnson said that he should have been more careful in clarifying that the opinions expressed in the letter to Cheney were his own and not the official opinion of the board as a whole.

Commissioner John Kolb said that he was concerned about the timetable Cheney was working on and wanted the board to get a letter together documenting the board’s official opinion to Cheney.

The commissioners said that public feedback is a great use of the county’s newly unveiled mobile-friendly website. During the morning session, the commissioners were given a demonstration of the site by staff who said that the site was having a few technical issues that are expected to be resolved shortly.