Forest Service reps update commission

Barbara Anne Greene

U.S. Forest District Ranger Mark Foster of the United States Forest Service (USFS) gave an update to the commission at their April 2 meeting.
Infrastructure repairs was a hot topic. Foster reported on the Five Springs Overlook project, which may result in occasional closures during excavation.
Meanwhile, in the Medicine Wheel area, the USFS will be working on the gate and fence at the parking area and the repair of the northern pasture fence, which has fallen into disrepair over the years. Foster said the USFS is considering using steel jack fence and is seeking approval from all the consulting partners of the Wheel. Further discussion of the project will be held at a meeting scheduled for July.
Foster has also been working closely with County Sheriff Ken Blackburn and USFS fire crews to make sure everyone knows each other and are on the same page. He told the commission, “[We want to] have good relationships, good explanations of coordination, risks and safety, should an incident come up in the forest. [We are] talking through things before we get into the fire season.”
They are also discussing road concerns. Foster said the USFS hopes to have a dedicated patroller and is coordinating arrangements with the sheriff’s office.
Commissioner Dave Neves requested the status of travel payment for the people that go to the Medicine Wheel meetings.
Foster explained he was still trying to get clarity, however tribal compensation is the norm.
Foster said he passed information regarding the Federal Lands Access Program (FLAP) onto the County Engineer’s office. “The big thing to know is that the deadline for submitting a proposal is April 30.” He added that Forest Service  (FS) Road 17 may qualify for the program.
The USFS is also hoping to move forward on water infrastructure repairs on sheep allotments. The money would come from RAC [Resource Advisory Committee] funding.
In other news about forest service projects:
•Three separate corral projects are moving forward. Two are for cattle permit holders; these are designed to improve safety for cattle gathering in the forest. The third will be the Bald Mountain corrals at the campground.
• Foster noted his office hopes to apply for funding to improve access to the Reservoirs. The plan would be similar to the project on Willet Creek Road/FS Road 277 to FS Road 226.
Acting county engineer Matt Leonhardt told the commission that the county received a recon report from WYDOT regarding Shell Creek Bridge. WYDOT is recommending a single span bridge or a box culvert. The county engineer’s office recommends the bridge because of the amount of debris that comes through. The bridge would be widened from 20 feet to 26 feet.
The raised pavement on Lane 40 and Lane 8 where water crossings were put in was discussed. Leonhardt stated that the contractor is digging out the raised portion and backfilling with gravel for now. In a few months, they will refill with asphalt.
Leonhardt told the commission that there is a proposal to WYO-BEN regarding one of their haul roads.  
• An executive session was held for contract/personnel.
• Julie Dunlap of Yellowstone Country Assistance Network discussed with commissioners a funding request.
• A right-of-way permit was approved on Lane 40 for Brent Koehn.
• Representatives from the Lovell and Basin Area Chambers gave an update on county tourism advertising and the final draft of a collectible sticker representing the Big Horn County.
• Updates on the Airports and Land Planning Departments were given by Paul Thur and Stephanie May.
• A public hearing for Liquor License renewals for Shell Bar Management and High County Lodge was held.
• Sabrina Burke from Northern Wyoming Treatment Court discussed grant funding.