ROCK SPRINGS — Governor Mark Gordon spent a couple of days in Sweetwater County last week visiting with small groups to learn more about the county, look at its resources and see what kind of economic development issues the region has.
On Thursday and Friday, Governor Gordon packed his schedule to see as much of Sweetwater County and visit with as many local groups as he could. The meetings were focused around the Bureau of Land Management’s Rock Springs Resource Management Plan (RMP) revision. Gordon met with community leaders, elected officials, and representatives from various areas including; industry, recreation, grazing, conservation, and sportsmen groups to obtain their opinions on the RMP.
According to BLM’s website, the BLM Rock Springs Field Office is initiating a planning effort to revise the 1997 Green River Resource Management Plan (GRRMP) with an associated Environmental Impact Statement. The revision will also include several amendments to the GRRMP including the Jack Morrow Hills Coordinated Activity Plan (JMH/CAP, 2006), designations of Energy Corridors on Federal Lands in 11 Western States (2008), and Geothermal Leasing in the Western United States (2008). An amendment regarding sage-grouse management is in progress and will need to be incorporated into the revised RMP.
Even though the Governor was busy, he took time out his schedule for a quick interview with SweetwaterNOW. Governor Gordon said on Thursday he drove down from Lander through Jack Morrow Hills and Chicken Springs to Rock Springs. He also visited the Red Desert. After a day of touring, Gordon had dinner with the Sweetwater County Commission to see what their thoughts are in terms of the BLM RMP plan, recreation opportunities, and anything else they wanted to discuss. Gordon said he also wanted to know how business was going for the county.
On Friday, Governor Gordon boarded a plane to fly over the Greater Little Mountain area to get a sense of the typography in that area. After returning to the airport, a small group drove up to the Little Mountain area to visit with members of the Muley Fanatic Foundation, the Greater Little Mountain Coalition, and ranchers.
Governor Gordon then took some time to visit with representatives from Rocky Mountain Power to hear their plans on what’s going to happen with the Jim Bridger Power Plant, Black Butte Coal, and wind and solar development. The entire state is concerned about what Rocky Mountain Power’s future plans are for the power plants in Wyoming.
“I had kind of a wide ranging conversation there,” Governor Gordon said. “We’re obviously very anxious to make sure our economy, and that of Sweetwater, is as strong as it possibly can be.”
Governor Gordon also had the opportunity to meet with Ciner Wyoming Representatives to not only discuss the current mining operations, but the future of the trona industry.
Addressing the COVID-19 Coronavirus
Friday evening, Governor Gordon visited with local legislators to see how the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funds, also known as the CARES Act, are being spent. He said sometimes when decisions are made in Cheyenne, the Southwest portion of the state hasn’t been made aware of those decisions. He wanted to make sure Sweetwater County had what it needed to help businesses reopen.
He said if businesses need Personal Protective Equipment, the state has ways of getting those items without cost to business owners. He wants the state to be helpful in getting businesses reopened. The new public health orders, which went into effect, Monday, June 15, are much better orders in terms of being lighter on communities and businesses.
“We’re really hoping that we can get to a place where we are pretty open fully very, very, soon,” Governor Gordon said.
Even though Governor Gordon’s scheduled was packed, he enjoyed his trip. Governor Gordon said it was nice for him to get out of his office and think about the future of Wyoming, the opportunities for Wyoming and not just the most recent COVID-related crisis the state has to deal with.
Wyoming has done really well with responding to COVID-19, even though its numbers have increased recently, it still has been doing better than the rest of the country.
Governor Gordon said, “We have the fifth lowest unemployment rate and the fourth lowest case load, I don’t think anybody else has that ratio…”
“I’ve always thought of Sweetwater County as a ‘can do’ county,” Gordon said. “It’s an unbelievable place.”
Gordon usually visits for the Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County Red Tie Gala and the Cowboys Against Cancer fundraising event, which are examples of how the county sees a need and finds a way to address it.
“This is a county that just knows how to get things done,” Governor Gordon said. “They put their shoulder to the wheel and just make sure that good things happen.”
Something Governor Gordon didn’t get a chance to see, but would like to on his next visit is the solar farms.
“I think it’s a wonderful county,” Governor Gordon said. “It’s one of my favorites to come to and I have lots of really good friends here.”