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Friday, Nov.17, 5:30PM: INTERNET and Verizon OUTAGE UPDATE: Unconfirmed reports state fiber was cut again in the construction south of Jackson. Estimated time of restoration is 11:00PM tonight. Sublette County landlines are down for long distance service using CenturyTel. Verizon cell service is down. Union cell is working.  
Weather update, Friday, Nov. 17, 7:30AM: Winter Storm Warnings and Weather Advisories for western Wyoming through today. Continued snow or rain/snow mix, with possible thunder. Roads may be slick in places, especially at higher elevations and over mountain passes. Black ice advisories out for Upper Green for Pinedale to Jackson and through Snake River Canyon. South Pass has Chain Law Level I in effect as of time of this report. I-80 in very western Wyoming has Chain Law Level I in effect and a closure near Evanston due to winter conditions. Daytime temps in the 30-40Fs around Pinedale, nighttime lows teens to 20Fs. The storm will move through today with weather clearing. The best holiday travel days getting through Wyoming appear to be Saturday & Sunday, then Tuesday. Travelers should allow extra time to reach their destination and carry winter emergency gear in their vehicles and monitor road/weather reports. For Wyoming road condition reports call 511 or 1-888-996-7623 or go online to www.wyoroad.info. Click here for more road, weather and area webcam links.   
Cirque Sunrise. Photo by Dave Bell.
Sunrise over the Cirque Dave Bell posted a beautiful photo of the sunrise over the Cirque of the Towers in the Wind River Mountain Range on Tuesday. Click on this link to see his latest photos: Dave Bell Photo Gallery Photo by Dave Bell.
Not the Tetons. Photo by Dave Bell.
Not the Tetons Pictured here is a close-up of Mt. Bonneville in the Wind River Mountain Range. Mt. Bonneville is the peak in straight line view when driving east on Pine Street (US 191) through downtown Pinedale. Click on this link to see more of Dave Bell's latest scenic photos from mid-November: Veteran’s Day Weekend – Mid-November Photo Album Photo by Dave Bell.
Beautiful Boulder Lake. Photo by Dave Bell.
Beautiful Boulder Lake The evening sun casts a golden glow on Boulder Lake with Mt. Bonneville in the Wind River Mountain Range as the backdrop. Click on this link to see more of Dave Bell's photos from his mid-November outings: Veteran’s Day Weekend – Mid-November Photo Album Photo by Dave Bell.
Gas Prices
Nov. 11, 2017
Pinedale2.799
Big Piney2.619
Wyoming2.530
USA2.561
Regular unleaded average.
WY & US provided by AAA.
Diesel Prices
Nov. 11, 2017
Pinedale3.459
Big Piney2.999
Wyoming3.031
USA2.823
WY & US provided by AAA.
Weekend Sports
Saturday, Nov. 18: UW Cowboys play Fresno State in Laramie Pregame at 11AM, kick off at Noon. Football game will be broadcast live locally on KPIN 101.1FM radio.
Headlines:

Pinedale Local:

White Pine Ski Area pre-season closure to uphill travel
Mountain Man Christmas in Pinedale Dec. 9
FREE Pinedale Community Thanksgiving dinner Nov. 23
Structure fire reported in Pinedale
Sublette County Cares
Pinedale Turkey Trot 5000 Nov. 23
International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day event in Pinedale Nov. 18
Ruth Rawhouser Art Show in Marbleton Nov. 17

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November 30: Riders in the Sky - PFAC Season Ticket event presentation. www.pinedalefinearts.com
December 1: Museum of the Mountain Man Wreath Auction - From 6 to 9PM at Pinedale Library, Lovatt Room. Fundraiser for the Museum.
December 9: Mountain Man Christmas in Pinedale - Hosted in Pinedale by the Sublette County Chamber of Commerce. Downtown open houses 4-6pm, Parade of Lights 6pm.
December 23: PAC Frosty 5K Family Fun Run - Saturday,10am. This event takes place rain, snow, or shine! Dogs and strollers are welcome. This is a free event and costumes are encouraged! Warm up with cocoa or in the hot tub after the event! www.pinedaleaquatic.com

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Pinedale Online is Pinedale, Wyoming on the web. We give our viewers, locals and out-of-area visitors, a "slice of life" snapshot window into our world view of what is happening in Pinedale. Visit us for current local news on what is happening, photos of local events, links to area businesses and services and more. We are long-time area residents and are happy to answer questions if you are planning a visit to our area. Much of our information is by community contribution.

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Wolf Watch, by Cat Urbigkit

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Temporary delays expected on Granite Creek Road in Hoback Canyon (posted 11/17/17)
Construction work to improve sight distance at entrance
Bridger-Teton National Forest
On Monday, November 20, 2017, Wyoming State Trails will be working on the entrance to the Granite Creek Road on the Bridger-Teton National Forest's Jackson Ranger District, located off of Highway 189/191, approximately 25 miles south of Jackson, Wyoming. Delays of 15 minutes are expected until Tuesday, November 21st.

The entrance of the Granite Creek Road has a narrow pinch-point with a blind corner. Workers will be utilizing a rock hammer and other equipment to chisel off 2-feet of rock face and remove the debris, and level out the area. Eliminating the blind curve will improve the sight distance and safety for visitors accessing the Granite Creek drainage.

The Forest asks that visitors use caution as workers and equipment will be moving in the area. For more information on road status or current conditions on the Forest, check with the local Ranger Districts or call 307-739-5500.


4 survive small plane crash near Rock Springs (posted 11/16/17)
Wyoming Highway Patrol
On November 15th, 2017 at 3:00 p.m., Wyoming Highway Patrol Troopers were dispatched to the area of mile post 2.5 on Wyoming State Highway 370 near Rock Springs, Wyoming for a report of a downed aircraft.

A small commuter plane carrying the pilot and three passengers had to make an emergency landing when the plane experienced mechanical problems. The pilot attempted to land the plane on WY 370.

All of the occupants survived the crash, but three of the passengers were transported by ground ambulance to the local area hospital and treated for their injuries.

The investigation has been turned over to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The occupants of the plane were out surveying and counting wild horses for the Bureau of Land Management prior to the crash.


Wolf News Roundup 11/14/2017 (posted 11/14/17)
Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
Wyoming wolf hunt
Half of Wyoming’s wolf trophy game hunt areas remain open, as quotas have not yet been reached. According to the Wyoming Game & Fish Department, 34 wolves have been taken during the fall hunting season in the trophy game areas, while another 27 wolves have been killed in the state’s predator zone so far this year.

Wolf killing, depredation investigations
Environmental groups have asked Oregon Governor Kate Brown to reopen an investigation into the self-defense killing of a wolf. The groups took issue with the Oregon State Police determination that an elk hunter who killed a wolf while it was running directly at him was in self-defense. The wolf was one of three that approached the man.

In other Oregon news, the Malheur County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed that wolves killed six cattle – the first such event in recent history in that county. The finding is a direct contradiction of the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife. Read the details in the links below.

Midwest wolves
The National Park Service has indicated that its preference is to reintroduce wolves to Isle Royale. The island has only two wolves remaining, and moose are abundant. In other news, Wisconsin legislators are eying a bill that would block state agencies from participating in management of the state’s wolf population or in enforcing laws prohibiting the killing of wolves. The move is viewed as an attempt to pressure Congress to pass legislation removing wolves from the endangered species list.

Washington wolves
The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife reports:
On October 27, 2017, a livestock producer saw one wolf in the act of attacking their livestock on private grazing lands in Northern Ferry County. The producer shot and killed the wolf, and reported the incident to WDFW. WDFW Enforcement investigated the producer’s action and found it to be consistent with state regulations. In areas of Washington where wolves are not listed under the federal Endangered Species Act, WAC 220-440-080 states the owner of domestic animals (or an immediate family member, agent, or employee) may kill one gray wolf without a permit issued by the WDFW director if the wolf is attacking their domestic animals. The incident occurred outside any known pack territories and the wolf killed was an unmarked adult female.

On November 2, 2017 WDFW was contacted by a different livestock producer in Ferry County about an injured calf that was discovered less than three miles from where the unmarked female wolf was killed under caught-in-the-act authority. A WDFW contracted range rider heard that there was a possible injured calf a day prior, but the calf could not be located at that time. Once the calf was found, it was taken to a holding pen for the investigation. The Ferry County Sheriff and WDFW management staff were notified of the pending depredation investigation as per the Wolf-Livestock Interaction Protocol. A Ferry County Officer was also in attendance for the depredation investigation.

The calf had injuries to both rear flanks and on both rear legs between the pin and hocks. Injuries on the rear flanks included bite lacerations and puncture wounds. Hemorrhaging was noted near bite lacerations in all four locations. After the wound was cleaned and dead tissue was removed, significant hemorrhaging was noted inside the wound, specifically around the wound margins. After a field examination of the injuries to the calf, it was determined to be a Confirmed Wolf Depredation. The determination was based on evidence and recent wolf activity in the area. Repeated reports from the producer and WDFW contracted range rider included recent wolf howls, tracks, scat, and cattle grouping behavior in the pasture where the injured calf was located. Information on the use of deterrence measures will be provided in our next monthly wolf report."

For more details on these stories, see the links below.

Related Links:
Wyoming hunts - Wolf Harvest Summary
Isle Royale - Fox9.com
Midwest wolves - Wisconsin Public Radio
Oregon investigation - OregonLive.com
Malheur County wolves - Malheur Enterprise
Washington - Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife
Wolf Watch - by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!


Info sought on deer poachings near Pinedale (posted 11/14/17)
Wyoming Game & Fish
PINEDALE - The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is seeking any information regarding two mule deer that were illegally shot south of Pinedale in recent days.

First, a buck mule deer was discovered northeast of Buckskin Crossing, off of the Lander Cut-Off Road (CR 23-132) near Long Draw. It is believed the deer was likely killed last Thursday or Friday, November 9 or 10 respectively. The buck deer was shot during a closed season and only the antlers were removed from the animal.

The second buck mule deer was killed Sunday, November 12, around 12:00PM along the Boulder Lake Road. The suspect is described as a white male, approximately five feet nine inches in height with a heavy-set build, blue eyes, balding light colored/whitening hair and a scruffy beard in his mid-50’s. The suspect is also described as having a strong accent or slight speech impediment. The suspect was observed wearing an orange cap and hunting out of a maroon semi-truck with no trailer in the Boulder area. The individual was seen leaving the area around 1:00PM. The deer was field dressed and removed from the field. It is believed that the suspect was not aware that the deer season was currently closed in the area. UPDATE: This person has been caught.

Anyone with possible information regarding either of these poaching incidents, or who was in the area and may have noted suspicious vehicles or activities, is encouraged to call the Pinedale Game and Fish office at 1-800-452-9107, the STOP POACHING hotline at 1-877-WGFD-TIP (1-877-943-3847) or the South Pinedale Game Warden, Jordan Kraft, at 307-367-2470.

Callers may remain anonymous and any information leading to an arrest and conviction may result in a reward of up to $5,000.00. Warden Kraft urges the public to come forward with any relevant information about either of these mule deer poaching incidents, especially in light of this past winter’s severe impacts to local mule deer herds.


Ultra Petroleum
Ultra Petroleum
Ultra Petroleum successfully drills 2-mile horizontal well on Pinedale Anticline (posted 11/12/17)
Pinedale Online!
Ultra Petroleum announced their 3rd Quarter 2017 results in a press release on November 7, 2017. One of the highlights they mention is the successful drilling and completion of a two-mile horizontal well on the east flank of Pinedale. They report this is currently flowing at 21 MMcfe/d (10% condensate) and increasing. Their production is up 6% compared to the second quarter of 2017.

Pinedale Horizontal Program Update
The Company recently drilled and completed a two-mile horizontal well on the east flank of Pinedale. This well targeted the Lower Lance A section and encountered significant gas shows throughout the entire 10,300’ lateral. Flowback was initiated on November 1st and the well is currently flowing at 21 MMcfed (10% condensate) and is still increasing. The Company expects the clean-up period of the flow-back operation to continue for 2-3 weeks. The total well cost is estimated at $9 million, which is expected to decrease over time as more horizontals are drilled.

Currently, the Company is drilling another horizontal well on the east flank that is targeting a deeper interval in the Mesaverde formation. This well should be drilled and completed by year-end 2017. A third well, designed as a half-mile offset to the recent well in the Lower Lance A, is scheduled to spud by the end of December 2017.

Wyoming Operations
During the third quarter, the Company and its partners brought online 63 gross (45.2 net) vertical wells in Pinedale with an average initial production (IP) rate for new operated vertical wells brought online of 6.8 million cubic feet equivalent (MMcfe) per day. The average condensate yield from these third quarter wells was 10.5 barrels per million cubic feet (MMcf). Contributing to this increase in production and activity was the Company’s ramp up to eight operated rigs in Pinedale by the end of August.

The Company averaged 8.4 days to drill an operated vertical well in the third quarter, as measured by spud to total depth (TD). This compares to 9.4 days to drill an operated vertical well in the second quarter. The decreased cycle time of one day reflects improved efficiencies now that the new rigs have been fully integrated into the fleet. Total days per vertical well, measured by rig-release to rig-release, averaged 10.6 days in the third quarter, which compares to 11.4 days in the second quarter of 2017.

Ultra Petroleum Corp. is an independent exploration and production company focused on developing its long-life natural gas reserves in the Green River Basin of Wyoming – the Pinedale and Jonah Fields. In addition, Ultra Petroleum currently has an oil development project underway in the Uinta Basin, Three Rivers area in Utah. Maintaining natural gas optionality, Ultra has a position in the heart of the Marcellus shale in the Appalachian Basin of Pennsylvania.

Click on this link to read Ultra’s full 3rd Quarter report: Ultra Petroleum Announces Third Quarter 2017 Results, Successful Horizontal Well and Updated Investor Presentation

Related Links:
Ultra Petroleum Pinedale Field ultrapetroleum.com
Out of bankruptcy, Ultra focuses on Western Wyoming By Heather Richards, Casper Star-Tribune, August 13, 2017
The Jonah Field and Pinedale Anticline: A natural-gas success story By Ann Chambers Noble, wyohistory.org


Sweetwater County deputies seized marijuana with a street value in excess of $300,000 after an I-80 traffic stop Wednesday, Nov. 9th. Sweetwater County Sheriff's Office courtesy photo.
Sweetwater County deputies seized marijuana with a street value in excess of $300,000 after an I-80 traffic stop Wednesday, Nov. 9th. Sweetwater County Sheriff's Office courtesy photo.
California man arrested and $300,000 worth of marijuana seized in I-80 traffic stop near Rock Springs (posted 11/9/17)
Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office
ROCK SPRINGS / GREEN RIVER, WYOMING - A Riverside, California man is in custody after county deputies recovered marijuana from his vehicle with a street value of over $300,000.

According to Sweetwater County Sheriff Mike Lowell, on Wednesday a deputy and his drug-detection-trained canine partner made a traffic stop on Interstate 80 east of Rock Springs when the deputy observed an eastbound vehicle, a blue Chevrolet Suburban, that had no visible front or rear license plates.

The driver and sole occupant of the Suburban was determined to be 36-year-old Daniel M. Hurtado. When the canine alerted to the presence of drugs in the vehicle, a preliminary search resulted in the discovery of a small amount of marijuana and Hurtado was placed under arrest.

A search warrant was obtained, and during the subsequent search of the vehicle just over 60 pounds of marijuana was found and seized.

In addition, as described in court documents, "Deputies also located 604 individual THC Vape cartridges containing a liquid substance that was labeled as 75% THC. Deputies also located 150 individual small glass containers that contained marijuana wax (Dab). [Deputies] later contacted the County Attorney's Office and informed them the vials labeled as 75% THC were marked as containing 500mg. The estimated total weight of the liquid marihuana was 302 grams."

Authorities warn that use of marijuana "concentrates" such as vape cartridges and marijuana wax are on the rise. Lowell says that parents can learn more about their use through links to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration website at www.justthinktwice.gov/facts-about-marijuana-concentrates

and

www.dea.gov/pr/multimedia-library/publications/marijuana-concentrates.pdf

Lowell said the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office is adopting a policy of not identifying its dog handlers and their K9 partners by name in the media due to nationwide incidences of threats against law enforcement officers and their dogs who have been responsible for major drug seizures.

Hurtado had his initial appearance in Circuit Court in Green River on Thursday. He is charged with two counts of felony-grade Possession of a Controlled Substance and one count of Possession with Intent to Deliver. His bond was set at $15,000 cash or surety, and he remains in custody as of the time of this release.


BOR fumbles Big Sandy assessment (posted 11/8/17)
Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) has released an environmental assessment for enlarging the Big Sandy Reservoir and is accepting public comment on the proposal until Dec. 6. But unless BOR determined you were an "interested stakeholder" you probably wouldn’t know that. No press releases were issued, no notice soliciting public comment was posted on the agency’s website, and a letter stating the document’s availability and public meeting date was sent only to a select list of people and government agencies. Although the letter was sent to Sweetwater County officials, Sublette County officials were not consulted nor on the distribution list, even though more than half the reservoir is located in Sublette County.

That nearly 500 acres will be newly inundated is only mentioned in the document’s assessment of impacts to Greater Sage-Grouse. BOR officials were unable to answer a question of how many of these acres are held in private landownership. Those are some of the issues that arose during the BOR’s public meeting Tuesday night in Farson that was attended by about a dozen local residents.

Pete Arambel of Dunton Sheep Company is the lone private property owner in the area impacted by the reservoir expansion and said that under state law, all affected private landowners were to be contacted, yet he was not.

"Why did you not?" Arambel asked. "I have 1,600 acres on that reservoir; 800 above, 800 below. I’m the only landowner there. I was never contacted." Arambel continued, "Our company has owned this ground for 115 years; we’ve operated this ground for 100, and no one ever talked to us. Why?"

BOR officials responded that they have discussed the Arambel property with state officials, and most recently, have been in contact with Arambel’s attorney.

"This document doesn’t deal with anything with the affected lands," Arambel said. "It doesn’t deal with anything about our operations. This is birthing country: you’re taking my lambing ground. You’re taking my calving ground. … There’s nothing about my operation here."

BOR’s NEPA Compliance Lead Peter Crookston said since the design phase is only at 30 percent, this was early in the planning process, and suggested Arambel submit his concerns in writing during the public comment period.

One BOR official said the EA looked at the lands in the area in general, "holistically," rather than any individual parcel. Arambel responded, "Your people trespassed on my land three years ago taking your elevation points. Was I ever contacted to give you access, or grant access, to any of that property? No."

BOR said state officials were in charge of talking with private property owners about the project. The Wyoming Water Development Commission (WWDC) is the lead agency funding the project, and the project sponsor is the Eden Valley Irrigation and Drainage District.

Arambel said that both the WWDC and BOR had proceeded with the project without contacting him, and he had to be the one to initiate contact about the project involving his private property.

Other things you won’t find in the EA include:
• The cost of the project. A Wyoming Water Development Commission study puts the construction cost at $8.4 million.
• A timeline for the project. Under questioning at Tuesday’s meeting, BOR officials said that the construction goal is the fall of 2019.
• The duration for construction. When questioned, BOR officials said that construction season would be September 15 to April 15th.
• Impacts to existing uses, including livestock operations, and lambing and calving operations.
• Engineering design drawings. While there is a written description of project components, basic design drawings weren’t included in the EA, but were displayed during a presentation at the meeting.
• The words "private property" do not appear in the document. The agency’s map for the reservoir expansion clearly shows several parcels of private property that will be impacted by the new inundation.

The word "landowner" is mentioned only once, in the section where BOR noted: "A comment period and public meeting will be conducted to solicit comments on the Draft EA. Notices of the comment period and public meeting will be sent to shareholders, landowners, and local, state, and Federal agencies."

Livestock grazing and agricultural operations are only mentioned once in the 87-page document, in the EA’s "cumulative effects" section: "Grazing and agricultural practices would be expected to continue as they have for decades, with no cumulative impact from this Project. Any impacts from this work would be temporary in nature with no long-term impacts. Based on resource specialists’ review of the Proposed Action, Reclamation has determined that this action would not have a significant adverse cumulative effect on any resources."

Private Property
In an interview Wednesday, Arambel expressed frustration that while he didn’t want to halt the project, proper process was not followed, and harm to his ranch operation aren’t being addressed.

"Fix me and I’ll be out of the way. Dirt for dirt: I want a trade, and that’s all – and that’s where we’ve been from day one. We’re not about dollars, we’re all about the land."

The WWDC-commissioned planning study for the project (completed earlier this year) noted, "Communication with the Dunton Sheep Company representative indicated they would entertain a potential land exchange to allow Reclamation or the State of Wyoming to own these inundated properties."

WWDC Deputy Director Jason Mead said in an interview Wednesday afternoon that while WWDC’s role in the project planning is primarily completed, his office will continue to serve as a go-between between Arambel and the State Land Office, which would have to approve of such a land exchange. Mead said that while there had been "roadblocks" in coming to an agreement, he was orchestrating a meeting between state officials and Arambel in attempt to resolve the impasse.

"I want to find the middle ground and see this project happen because it will provide big benefits for that local area, in my opinion," Mead said. He noted that the Big Sandy project falls within Governor Matt Mead’s "10 in 10" water development strategy, which calls for development of 10 reservoir projects in the state in 10 years.

WWDC’s Mead said, "We’re not in the business of impacting landowners. Eminent domain is not something we are going to pursue on this project."

The Project
The Big Sandy Reservoir, located about 10 miles north of Farson in both Sublette and Sweetwater counties, provides storage for irrigation, flood control, and recreation.

The Wyoming Water Development Commission is interested in increasing the storage capacity of the reservoir by raising the spillway crest by five feet, increasing total storage capacity (by 13,600 acre-feet) to 52,300 acre-feet. A toe drain and filter trench would be installed along the left abutment of the dam, a filter diaphragm would be installed around the outlet works, a cement-bentonite cutoff wall would be constructed through the crest of the dike, and since raising the reservoir would increase the water height on the existing dikes that are already experiencing erosion, additional riprap would be required. In addition, the project would replace the Big Sandy Feeder Canal headworks and six concrete drop structures.

Water Law & Private Property
Wyoming water development law 41-2-122 specifically provides for "Protection and rights of landowner":
"(a) The Wyoming water development commission shall include in the planning process at Level I notification to a landowner whose lands may be flooded or otherwise physically affected, as determined by the administrator. The commission shall include in the planning process at Level II consultation with any landowner whose land may be flooded or otherwise physically affected by a proposed water project and shall include a report on the proposed mitigation of landowner impacts as jointly identified by the commission and the landowner." (b) The Wyoming water development commission shall consult with and supply copies of reports and studies to any landowner whose land will be flooded or physically affected by any proposed water development project. The commission and any employees or other persons under the control of the commission shall mitigate any damages and disruption of the landowner's operations during the study phase including prevention of public nuisances and shall enter on private property only in the manner provided by W.S. 1-26-506 and shall also be subject to W.S. 1-26-507 and 1-26-508.
(c) In proceeding with Level III, construction and operation plans, the commission shall follow the requirements of the Wyoming Eminent Domain Act, shall negotiate in good faith with affected landowners and, in addition, shall attempt to mitigate damages which may occur from the impacts enumerated in subsection (a) of this section."


2017 Wyoming brand books on sale (posted 11/7/17)
The Wyoming Livestock Board’s 2017 brand books are available for sale. Cost is $38 for the book plus $4.74 for shipping. The brand book can also be purchased on CD for $22. Older brand books can be viewed on the WLSB website at wysb.state.wy.us. To order and for more information call (307) 777-7515.


Craig Sheppard. Pinedale Online file photo by Pam McCullough.
Craig Sheppard. Pinedale Online file photo by Pam McCullough.
SCSD 1 to name PHS Auditorium for long-time instrumental music teacher R. Craig Sheppard (posted 11/6/17)
Pinedale Auditorium to be renamed ‘Sheppard Auditorium’
SCSD#1 media release
Sublette County School District 1 is pleased to announced that it will name the SCSD 1 Auditorium after long-time instrumental music teacher R. Craig Sheppard. Mr. Sheppard provided 40 years of distinguished service to SCSD 1 as the band instructor, from 1972-2012. Under Mr. Sheppard’s leadership the band grew from just 21 students to nearly 80 at times. Mr. Sheppard has had a profound influence on two generations of students and musicians in Pinedale. "His success and longevity in a single district is becoming an exceptionally rare feat in K-12 education", said Superintendent Jay Harnack. Mr. Harnack requested the SCSD 1 Board of Trustees rename the facility in Mr. Sheppard’s honor last spring.

Mr. Sheppard will be recognized at the District’s Winter Concert on December 4th, 2017 and the auditorium will be officially dedicated as "Sheppard Auditorium" at that time. We hope that you can join us in this celebration.


Oregon hunter kills wolf in self-defense (posted 11/2/17)
Hunter has encounter with three wolves
Oregon State Police
On October 27, 2017 at about 11:30AM, an OSP Fish and Wildlife Trooper and an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Biologist responded to the report of an elk hunter, who had self-reported shooting a wolf in Union County. The two responded to the hunter's camp in the Starkey Wildlife Management Unit.

The hunter, a 38-year-old male from Clackamas, told the trooper he had been hunting elk alone, when he repeatedly noticed some type of animal moving around him. A short time later, the hunter observed three of what he assumed would be coyotes. He said at one point one of them began to run directly at him, while another made its way around him.

The hunter stated he focused on the one running directly at him. He began to scream at it, and fearing for his life shot it one time. He said what he still believed to be a coyote died from the single shot. He stated that after the shot the other two disappeared out of sight.

The hunter said he returned to his camp and told fellow hunters what had occurred. He said he was still uncertain if what he shot was a coyote. He said they returned to the location and came to the conclusion it was a wolf. The hunter then notified ODFW and OSP.

Further investigation at the site of the shooting indicated the hunter was 27 yards from where he shot and where the wolf died. The wolf was seized and later released to ODFW for examination. The Union County District Attorney's Office was consulted regarding the investigation and based upon the available evidence the case will not be prosecuted as this is believed to be an incidence of self-defense.

It is unlawful to kill a wolf in Oregon, except in defense of human life (and in certain instances involving wolf depredation of livestock).

According to ODFW, this incident marks the first time that a wolf has been reported shot in self-defense in Oregon since they began returning to the state in the late 1990s.

ODFW examined the wolf shot and determined it was an 83-pound female associated with the OR30 pair of wolves occupying the Starkey and Ukiah WMUs in northeast Oregon (Union and Umatilla Counties). Initial examination does not indicate that the wolf was a breeding female, but the wolf's DNA will be analyzed to confirm this.

"Dangerous encounters between wolves and people are rare, as are such encounters between people and cougars, bears and coyotes," said Roblyn Brown, ODFW Acting Wolf Coordinator. "They will usually avoid humans and leave the area when they see, hear, or smell people close by. If you see a wolf or any other animal and are concerned about your safety, make sure it knows you are nearby by talking or yelling to alert it to your presence. If you are carrying a firearm, you can fire a warning shot into the ground."

Related Links:
Wolf Watch - by Cat Urbigkit


Two recreation proposals at Greys River Ranger District (posted 11/3/17)
Portable toilet installation and 3-day snowmobile hill climb. Deadline for comments is November 30, 2017
Bridger-Teton National Forest
AFTON, WYOMING – The Greys River Ranger District of the Bridger-Teton National Forest is seeking public input on two current recreation-related proposals. One is the addition of a new vaulted toilet facility and the other is a one-time recreation event permit.

The proposed new vaulted toilet facility is being considered for a previously hardened location approximately thirteen miles up the Little Greys River Road, # 10124. Currently, the only existing toilet facility along the approximately 25-miles of open roads in the drainage is within a fenced area at McCain Guard Station, at the extreme northern portion of the upper forks of the road system. This guard station is available for public rental, so when general forest recreationists want to use that facility, conflicts can arise. The proposed location would be more centrally-located to the majority of the dispersed campsites just below the upper 'Y' where #10124 and #10047 diverge, at an old heli-spot and former roadway (#10124A) where the ford washed out years ago (T36, R116, S6). This location is also near the #10334 network at Blind Trail, popular with firewood collectors and motorbike enthusiasts exploring Telephone Pass. Visitors enjoying these day-use activities may not be associated with any self-contained camping units, so with increased numbers of recreationists in the drainage, sanitation facilities are clearly a desired improvement.

The proposed recreation event permit would allow for the continued use of the Phillips Canyon area in Grover Park for its February 2018 three-day snowmobile Hill Climb. This event has been held on the national forest for approximately twenty years now, and provides a positive economic boost for local communities during a slower season. The local volunteer organization, Star Valley Ridge Riders snowmobile club, is the host and project proponent that would hold this permit. Because this area has a number of special designations, including critical wildlife winter range and municipal watershed protection emphasis, event design criteria have been developed over the years to address a variety of potential resource concerns.

Given the volatile changes in amounts of snow on the hill from year to year, and even across a single winter, the requirement for an average of at least eighteen inches of snow prior to the event start can present a challenge. Last year barely met that depth requirement, and soil damage had to be treated. Several years ago, the snow slid off the face of the slope used for the event, and the location had to be moved to the ski area outside Cokeville, which was a less exciting location for participants, and farther from Star Valley businesses. Packing the hill earlier has been allowed under special permit waivers for the past two years, and the activity does appear to be effective in retaining snow.

Questions on the two proposals can be directed to Sid Woods at 307-886-5327. For inclusion in the permitting decision, please send comments to swoods@fs.fed.us prior to December 1, 2017.


Special Use permit fees adjusted for 2018 for Grand Teton National Park (posted 11/3/17)
Some fees increasing from $2 to $25 in 2018
National Park Service
MOOSE, WYOMING - Grand Teton National Park's Special Use Permit fee schedule will be adjusted for 2018. The adjustments include modest increases to permit fees for backcountry use, non-motorized boating, weddings, and special events. Permit fees for commercial filming, motorized boating, and other uses will remain unchanged.

Each year, park staff conduct a review of the special use permit program. The review compares the amount of fees collected over the past year for each special use with the operational costs associated with that use. The primary operational cost of each special use is staff time to issue the permits and conduct other activities such as maintenance, patrol, monitoring, or cleaning which may be associated with a particular special use. Other costs associated with special uses include printing, reservation software, and equipment.

Special Uses With a Fee Change
Backcountry Permits*: Current Fee: $25, 2018 Fee: $35
Wedding Permits: Current Fee: $100, 2018 Fee: $125
Special Event Permits: Current Fee: $175, 2018 Fee: $200
Non-Motorized Boat Permits: Current Fee: $10, 2018 Fee: $12

Special Uses With No Fee Change
Motorized Boat Permits: Stays at $40
Commercial Film Permits (Less than six months): Stays at $275
Commercial Film Permits (Six months to one year): Stays at $325

*There is an additional $10 fee for advanced backcountry permit reservations made January 3 through May 15. This advanced reservation fee will remain unchanged.

The primary driver of the increase in backcountry permit fees is a change in the cost to utilize the online reservation system at www.recreation.gov. The other fee increases are driven by other increased operational costs.

Park visitors are reminded that a no-fee permit is required for some other special park uses such as collegiate educational courses; protests, demonstrations, and other activities protected by the First Amendment; and the scattering of ashes.


Nearly all entrances and roads close in Yellowstone Park Nov. 6 (posted 11/1/17)
Park and visitors prepare for winter
National Park Service
This weekend, November 4-5, provides the last chance for visitors to drive to many iconic locations in Yellowstone. The West, South, and East Entrances and all roads, with one exception, will close to vehicle travel at 8 a.m. Monday, November 6, so the park can prepare them for the winter season and snowmobile and snowcoach travel, which will begin Tuesday, December 15.

The one exception is the road from the park’s North Entrance at Gardiner, Montana through Mammoth Hot Springs to the park’s Northeast Entrance and the communities of Cooke City and Silver Gate, Montana. This road is open all year, weather permitting. Travel east of Cooke City (via the Beartooth Highway) is not possible from late fall to late spring.

Visitors driving to and in the park during the fall and winter should have flexible travel plans and be prepared for changing weather conditions. Temporary travel restrictions or closures can occur at any time without notice. For the most current information on road conditions and road closures, visit go.nps.gov/YellRoads or call 307-344-2117 for recorded information.

Extensive information for planning a winter visit in Yellowstone, including information about lodging, camping, services, and activities, is available on the park’s web site at www.nps.gov/yell.

All communities near Yellowstone are open year-round, with local businesses offering a wide range of fall and winter recreation opportunities. For information about communities in Montana (Gardiner, West Yellowstone, Cooke City, and Silver Gate), visit www.visitmt.com. For information about Wyoming communities (Cody and Jackson), visit www.wyomingtourism.org. And if your travel plans to the park take you through Idaho, visit www.visitidaho.org.


Let's talk about grizzlies (posted 10/31/17)
Nov. 16th meeting in Pinedale
Wyoming Game & Fish Department
Next week the Wyoming Game and Fish Department will begin conversations with the public to talk about grizzly bears and grizzly bear management. Game and Fish will be holding community meetings statewide starting Nov. 8 through December where all people with an interest in grizzly bears can talk with wildlife managers. In May of last year the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission approved a new version of its grizzly bear management plan. Now that the species has been delisted, management in Wyoming will be guided by this plan. These meetings will be an opportunity for those who are interested to weigh in on all components of grizzly bear management and ask questions.

The meeting schedule includes:
Date and Time Town Location
Nov. 8, 6 p.m. Casper, Game and Fish Casper Regional Office
Nov. 8, 7 p.m. Laramie, Game and Fish Laramie Regional Office
Nov. 9, 6 p.m. Sheridan, Game and Fish Sheridan Regional Office
Nov. 15, 6 p.m. Jackson, Virginian Lodge
Nov. 16, 6 p.m. Pinedale, Game and Fish Pinedale Regional Office
Nov. 29, 6 p.m. Green River, Game and Fish Green River Regional Office
Nov. 30, 6:30 p.m. Cody, Holiday Inn
Dec. 4, 6 p.m. Lander, The Inn at Lander

The meetings will be a chance for the public to learn more about all aspects of grizzly bear research, education and management in Wyoming and help shape grizzly bear conservation in the future. Game and Fish biologists will open each meeting with a brief informative presentation on grizzly bear recovery and conservation, an overview of the major components of the grizzly bear management plan and what Game and Fish hopes to gain from discussions with the public. Information about grizzly bear management and education efforts is available on the Game and Fish website.

Related Links:
Large Carnivore Information - Wyoming Game & Fish Department


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