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Wyoming News Briefs July 3, 2020


July 2, 2020

Herbicide runoff blamed for fish deaths

LARAMIE (WNE) — The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has determined that an herbicide, probably washed into Spring Creek through a storm drain, was the likely culprit in the deaths of several dozen fish in late May.

The department received a report on May 26 from a local resident regarding dead brown trout in the creek near 15th Street, said spokesperson Robin Kepple.

Fisheries biologist Steve Gale observed numerous dead trout of multiple size classes in the stretch of creek between 15th and Eighth streets. No other fish species were killed, but brown trout are the most abundant species in the creek.

Gale collected about 20 fish and sent took them to the department’s Wildlife Forensic Fish Health Laboratory, which is housed at the Game and Fish facility on Adams Street.

Fish Health Program Coordinator Brandon Taro said all the fish sent to the lab had enlarged livers, which indicates liver damage caused by some types of herbicides.

“We’re not able to pinpoint the exact cause, but everything is consistent with an herbicide poisoning,” he said.

Kepple said the most likely explanation for the presence of herbicide in the creek is that a nearby homeowner applied it on his or her property and it washed into the creek through a storm drain.

“It’s impossible to know where the exact source came from,” she said. “It’s a time of year when there’s a lot of weeds and a lot of herbicide use, so it’s likely that it was unintentional.”


Campbell County to be paid back taxes

GILLETTE (WNE) — Campbell County will be paid $1.85 million in back taxes owed by a pair of companies.

Carbon Creek Energy and Powder River Midstream were subsidiaries of Moriah Powder River LLC, which filed for bankruptcy last fall. Carbon Creek Energy and Powder River Midstream now operate under U.S. Realm Powder River.

The companies paid the county about $1.4 million in taxes for 2016, but did not pay anything from 2017-19 under the Moriah umbrella. The $1.4 million accrued interest in an escrow account since 2016 to bring the figure up to $1.85 million.

The company owed $3.5 million in taxes overall since 2016, but its deal with the county is only for the $1.85 million. As a result, the county will not get $1.65 million in taxes it was owed.

The company has made about $130 million doing business in Campbell County.

It seems like the taxes could have been paid earlier, Commissioner Rusty Bell said.

“It's not our money, it's the people of Campbell County's money,” he said.

Taxes for the 2020 are due at the end of the year.

Because the company continues to operate in the county, there should be some incentive to pay its taxes moving forward, Campbell County Assessor Troy Clements said.


Cheney offers bill to continue telehealth access

SHERIDAN (WNE) — Liz Cheney, Wyoming’s lone U.S. House Representative, introduced legislation to continue access to telehealth for seniors around the country, even after the relaxed requirements for it end when the COVID-19 emergency declaration ceases.

The legislation, known as the Advancing Telehealth Beyond COVID-19 Act, would make it so Medicare beneficiaries no longer have to use designated ‘originating sites’ for telehealth services and can use it outside of physician shortages, according to a release from Cheney.

It would make telehealth at federally qualified health centers and rural health clinics permanent, ensuring rural health care providers can continue to use telehealth and be compensated for it.

The release also said the bill would remove restrictions limiting the ability to provide access to smart devices and other technology to patients.

“Congress has worked with the Trump Administration to remove many of the barriers that prevented seniors from utilizing telehealth service from the safety of their homes,” Cheney said in an email to The Sheridan Press. “As a result, telehealth use among seniors has continued to rise and this legislation would continue this successful trend well after the pandemic is over, while allowing Medicare to adapt to the ever-changing innovation in medical technology.”

The bill, which is co-sponsored by Rep. Greg Gianforte, R-Mont., Rep. David Kustoff, R-Tenn., and Rep. Jason Smith, R-Mo., joins seven other bills introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives aimed at expanding telehealth capabilities after the COVID-19 pandemic passes.


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