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Wyoming News Briefs AUGUST 23

Lawmakers prep bill making tribal ID legal for voting

RIVERTON (WNE) — In a Monday meeting in Fort Washakie, members of the Wyoming Select Committee on Tribal Relations worked through a proposed bill that would endow tribal identification cards with the voting criteria mandated by federal law.

Federal law states a registered driver may not use a tribal ID alone to register to vote, as tribal ID cards do not link to criminal history and other databases.

There is no overwhelming push to change that law at this time, but on the state level, tribal leaders and legislators, along with Fremont County Clerk Julie Freese and Secretary of State Ed Buchanan, have worked through a proposed Wyoming House Bill that would allow tribal IDs to be used in voter registration, provided they are printed with a driver’s license number or, for unregistered drivers, the last four digits of a Social Security number.

Currently, state law requires that any person who is registered to drive in Wyoming must produce his or her driver’s license number in order to register to vote in Wyoming. A person who is not registered to drive may give the last four digits of his or her Social Security number and an accepted form of identification – including a tribal ID.

During Monday’s meeting Freese said she is “excited about the bill.”

“It puts a little bit of onus on the tribes” to add the driver’s license or Social Security information to the tribal ID card, she said, but county government is “ready to roll with it.”


Woodruff Narrows Reservoir makes four Wyoming lakes containing harmful bacteria

EVANSTON (WNE) — Woodruff Narrows Reservoir is one of four Wyoming lakes to contain cyanobacteria, commonly referred to as blue-green algae.

The harmful bacteria have left two dogs dead after swimming in another Wyoming lake and prompted warnings from state agencies.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) has posted warning signs near the Narrows stating, “Advisory: Harmful cyanobacterial blooms have been identified in this waterbody.”

Woodruff Narrows has been a favorite area in Uinta County for fishing, swimming and camping since the 1960s. Now, it should be off limits for any recreational activity involving canines.

Cyanobacteria can form blooms that produce toxins and other irritants that pose a risk to human, pet and livestock health.

The Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) issues a recreational use advisory for publicly accessible waterbodies once the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) determines that harmful levels of cyanobacteria and/ or toxins are present in the water. Three other Wyoming lakes are currently reported by the DEQ to contain cyanobacteria, including Eden Reservoir (Sweetwater County), Toltec Reservoir (Albany County) and Leazenby Lake (Albany County).

Recently, two dogs have been reported to have died after swimming in Leazenby Lake. WGFD Regional Fishery Supervisor Robb Keith covers Uinta County, Sweetwater County, Lincoln County and a small part of Carbon County waters.

Keith said, “The cyanobacteria blooms are a result of warmer temperatures possibly due to climate change and possibly other factors. We don’t know yet. The blooms won’t die off until the temperature cools. There is no method for getting rid of them.”


Carbon County sees fourth quarter economic increase

RAWLINS (WNE) – Carbon County added 249 jobs in average monthly employment between 2017 and last year, according to recently released quarter four figures by the Wyoming Department of Workforce services.

The figures reveal that quarter four ended last year with 6,917 jobs compared to 6,668 in 2017.

For total wages, meanwhile, Q4 2018 saw a $9,264,553 uptick from 2017. It shot up from $76,623,727 total payouts in Q4 2017 to $85,888,280 in Q4 2018, causing a 12.1% growth.

This reflects on average weekly wages, as well.

Carbon County for Q4 2018 saw a $71 increase in average weekly wages from the year prior, growing from $884 per week in 2017 to $995. This marks an 8.1% increase in weekly wages.

“I think a lot of it has to do with some of the wind projects and those people coming in and hiring,” said Cindy Wallace, executive director of Carbon County Economic Development. “More people are coming in. Usually fall in to winter, a lot of the jobs decrease, so that’s pretty good for that time of year.”

So far, activity from more than a handful of major energy projects rounding up to billions of dollars in production takes the lion’s share of recent economic enhancements.


Significant progress made in containing Boulder Lake Fire

PINEDALE (WNE) — The Boulder Lake Fire, formerly the Tannerite Fire, burning between Boulder and Burnt lakes is 80-percent contained as of Thursday morning, said Nan Stinson, fire prevention specialist for the Bridger-Teton National Forest.

The official acreage burned stands at 1,359 acres.

The fire showed no growth, however, and the slightly higher number reflected more accurate mapping, Stinson explained.

“Firefighters had success with mop-up efforts (Wednesday) and made significant gains in containment over the last five days,” Stinson said. “The mop-up efforts are pivotal to the success of the operation.”

The Type III Incident Command Team handed control back to the local Type IV team on Thursday morning.

Three National Forest Type-6 engines are still on the scene along with a helicopter from Teton Interagency Fire, Stinson said. Around 25 personnel continue to focus on mopping up hot spots.

“We will maintain a presence on the fire until it is out,” said Stinson.

The Forest Service planned to reopen the road from Burnt Lake to Meadow Lake (Forest Road 766) on Friday, Stinson said.


Fire ban may be on horizon in Teton County

JACKSON (WNE) — Federal, state and local fire officials are closely watching fire conditions in Teton County as the weather remains hot and dry.

During a conference call Tuesday, officials with the Bridger-Teton National Forest, Grand Teton National Park, Jackson Hole Fire/EMS and the National Weather Service discussed the possibility of a fire ban.

“If it stays dry it is probably coming,” Jackson Hole Fire/EMS Chief Brady Hansen said.

Under Wyoming state law, the county fire warden can impose fire restrictions because of extreme conditions or drought, to lessen the chances of human-caused fires.

“As the fire chief I look at the valley floor,” Hansen said. “It’s dryer than the mountain range. I look to see if the grasses will carry a significant distance.”

Fire danger remains “high” in Teton County and was increased on Wednesday to “very high” in the Wyoming zone, the southwest corner of Teton Interagency Fire rating areas.

Andy Norman, forest fuels specialist for the Bridger- Teton National Forest, said his agency isn’t quite ready to sign off on fire restrictions.

“You don’t want to go in and out of restrictions in one day,” Norman said. “People are hiking into the Winds, and they’ll be in there for a week. It’s why we try to do it in a coordinated manner.”

Specialists are constantly measuring moisture levels and the dryness of grass, brush and trees.

There are two fires burning in Teton County, but they are in remote areas and not moving much, Hansen said.

The Forest Service is keeping an eye on them.

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