Wyoming news briefs for March 4
Bill removing some public notice requirements in newspapers gains initial support in Senate
CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Senate gave initial support Wednesday to a bill that would remove two types of public notices local governments are required to publish in newspapers, instead making cities and counties provide them on their websites.
If adopted by the Legislature, Senate File 17 would remove the requirement for them to pay to publish employees’ annual salaries and meeting minutes in at least one local newspaper. Towns and counties would instead have to keep the information on their official websites.
Supporters of the bill, which had the backing of the Wyoming County Commissioners Association and the Wyoming Association of Municipalities, have argued the proposal is an effective way for local governments to cut costs amid ongoing budget challenges.
Meanwhile, its critics in the Senate, especially those from rural communities, raised concerns about transparency and the difficulties that some older residents could have accessing local government websites.
“I go online for my news before I go to the newspaper, but that is not the demographics of the vast majority of my rural Senate district,” Sen. Tim Salazar, R-Riverton, said.
Others noted Wyoming’s towns and counties usually spend less than 0.5 percent of their annual budgets to publish public notices in newspapers.
“Transparency is more important than saving 0.12 percent of somebody’s budget,” Sen. Bo Biteman, R-Ranchester, said.
However, the bill was ultimately advanced on its first reading, as some lawmakers held that amendments could be added to the bill to improve it on its second and third readings.
The bill was advanced by a 15-12 vote on its first reading, and it will receive further consideration in the Senate in coming days.
Yellowstone day-of camping cut down for 2021
JACKSON — Yellowstone National Park has announced that it is following in its southern neighbor’s footsteps and converting some campgrounds to reservation-only for the coming summer.
Earlier this year, Grand Teton National Park announced it was doing away with all first-come, first-served camping, and had converted its 800-plus sites spread throughout seven campgrounds to reservation-only.
The same shift in Yellowstone applies to the Mammoth and Slough Creek campgrounds and a portion of the Pebble Creek campground. Yellowstone concessionaire Xanterra already operated five of the park’s 12 campgrounds as reservation-only, and that leaves just five campgrounds with first-come, first-served sites — but two, Norris and Tower Falls campgrounds, will be closed in 2021.
Impromptu roadtrippers who roll into Northwest Wyoming’s two flagship national parks in summer 2021 are down to three spots where unplanned camping will be in the cards: Lewis Lake Campground, the Indian Creek Campground and a portion of Pebble Creek. Collectively, they offer 166 campsites that will be available without a reservation.
According to Yellowstone’s public affairs office, the changes were made at the request of visitors.
“The ability to make reservations will enable visitors to plan their trips ahead of time and provide assurance that they will have a campsite upon arrival,” park officials wrote.
Bookings for Yellowstone’s newly reservable campsites will go live on Recreation.gov starting at 8 a.m. March 24.
Visitors will be able to book campsites up to six months in advance. They’re expected to go quickly.
Outside the peak season, Yellowstone is also keeping the Mammoth Campground’s 85 sites first-come, first-served. It’ll convert to reservation only come May 1, then revert Oct. 16.
Newsome supports bill to allow people to take roadkill
CODY – A proposed bill debated Tuesday on the floor of the State House would allow people to legally take roadkill under a number of conditions.
Rep. Sandy Newsome, R-Cody, is a co-sponsor. HB 95 was initially brought to the floor Tuesday for discussion.
If passed, it would require the Game and Fish Commission, in consultation with the state transportation commission, to establish a program whereby any person who wants to take wildlife killed as a result of motor vehicle collisions on any public road or highway in the state of Wyoming is permitted to do so as long as they meet one of a number of requirements.
“I support this bill because I think it benefits the residents of Wyoming,” Newsome said. “Thirty states allow the collection of roadkill. While some might collect the animals for meat, others might want the hide or teeth.”
Currently there are certain conditions that allow someone to keep roadkill, but each situation has to be approved by a game warden and the person has to have the proper game license or an interstate game tag.
Game and Fish has said the rules are to prevent poaching.
Some states do allow the practice of taking wildlife, including Montana.
The house bill would allow someone to take a deer killed in a motor vehicle accident provided they have prior approval, an interstate game tag or a license.
Newsome said while serving on the House travel committee, members looked at concerns regarding safety when someone is attempting to recover a carcass, and were set to vote on an amendment Wednesday that would require a person to remove the entire animal from the roadway.
Boot camp to move to Rawlins, Lusk
NEWCASTLE — The Youthful Offender Transition Program, formerly known as boot camp, will be moving from the Wyoming Honor Conservation Camp in Newcastle, according to information provided in an email from the Wyoming Department of Corrections.
The program is slated to move to the Wyoming State Penitentiary in Rawlins and a unit at the Wyoming Women’s Center in Lusk, the information states.
“The program for the men is being moved to the WSP to better utilize the space the Department of Corrections has available,” the email says. “In the past few years, we have not had enough young men to fill the space, so we are relocating the program to a unit within a different prison. The women have previously been sent out of state to states that have youthful offender programs to participate in their program.”
The space currently housing the program at the Newcastle facility will likely be used as a substance abuse treatment unit for female offenders, the email states. This should prevent the department from being forced to send females to county jails in the state due to overcrowding at the Wyoming Women’s Center in Lusk.
“These moves should allow WDOC to house all Wyoming inmates in WDOC facilities,” the email concludes.
The Wyoming Honor Conservation Camp now houses 223 inmates, with 79 staff members.
Requests for further information, including potential staffing and budget impacts of the relocation, were not answered by press time.
Shell woman competes in ‘Ultimate Cowboy Showdown’; episodes airing on INSP TV
GREYBULL — Shell native and Greybull High School graduate Morgan Flitner is among 14 cowboys competing in the second season of Ultimate Cowboy Showdown.
Morgan, who said ranching and “cowboying” is in her DNA, is a homegrown, hard-working member of a family that planted its roots deep into Shell Valley over a century ago.
She is a fifth-generation rancher who said a lot of times people “don’t take me seriously; but when I get a rope in my hands,” they know she’s for real.
The 14 contestants are “bunk-housed” at the Texas ranch of country music icon Trace Adkins. Each of the cowboys/cowgirls locks horns in a number of grueling challenges that test them both physically and mentally, individually and as a member of a team.
Organizers said the competition also brings out other aspects of the contestants personalities: wit, humor, empathy, chivalry and compassion.
Adkins and a panel of experts judge the contestants’ skills, knowledge, grit and passion.
One-by-one the contestants who “can’t stack up to the challenge” are eliminated until only one stands, winning the prize of a lifetime.
The grand prize? His or her own herd of cattle plus a Rawhide Portable Corral, an Arrowquip Q-catch 87 series Cattle Chute, the coveted Ultimate Cowboy Showdown belt-buckle and a lifetime of bragging rights – and memories.
This competition is real, and it’s serious to Morgan.
“It means something to me. It’s my livelihood and I’m going to fight for it," she said.
The series premiered on Wednesday, Feb. 24, at 9 p.m. on INSP-TV.