Council excited by new ORV trail system

Mark Tesoro photos

MARBLETON – The power failure that followed gale-force winds last Monday evening left everyone at Marbleton Town Hall in the dark – literally – including dignitaries, councilmembers and the public.

As people’s eyes adjusted, Mayor Jim Robinson opened the Marbleton Town Council’s July 12 meeting and moved to a topic that kindled the council’s interest – participating in the proposed Southwest Wyoming Off-road Trails network.

Given 15 minutes to explain the project to link county roads and municipal streets for off-road vehicle owners visiting communities from south to north, organizer Mark Tesoro brought along Sen. Dan Dockstader, Sen. Fred Baldwin, Rep. Albert Sommers and state recreation officials. Leland Christensen, state director for U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis, also attended.

Tesoro (who is publisher of the Sublette Examiner and Pinedale Roundup) said he and friends kicked off the economic development effort in Evanston and Uinta County to grow the state’s recreation industry and highlight Wyoming’s rural landscapes.

Recreation is Wyoming’s second-highest revenue driver, Tesoro said. He and SWOT members have worked with state, county and city governments, chambers of commerce, public land agencies and law enforcement.

State support

“Off-roading” is growing by leaps and bounds, especially during the past year’s COVID pandemic, as a way to get outside, according to Forrest Kamminga, program manager for the Wyoming Trails Program. Last year brought 14,000 new OHV owners statewide, he said.  

“There is tremendous potential here,” Tesoro told the council. “Surrounding communities are on board and the state sees an opportunity to connect off-road trails. (Off-road vehicle owners) want to ride them on dirt; they don’t have to be extreme.”

SWOT wants to connect hundreds of miles of existing off-road trails with town streets and county roads so people driving side-by-sides and larger ATVs can travel to the towns via public trails and stop for a meal, shopping, lodging or fuel.

“We are in support of it,” said Chris Floyd, Wyoming Outdoor Recreation Office manager.

Kamminga spoke enthusiastically about what the expanding trail system could bring to southwest and western Wyoming for local economies. Qualified drivers buy a $15 registration sticker and must abide by all laws and ORV regulations, he explained.

“The benefit is you enroll your city streets, we create a memorandum of understanding and enroll you in our program,” he said. “Then you would be eligible for internal (state) grants.”

Dockstader said Lincoln County and Kemmerer are in discussions now to connect with Evanston and Uinta County – “We share this common playground.”

Big Piney Mayor Tyler Maxfield, who joined the audience, said his town is also “on board.”

Christensen also told the council that Lummis supports the SWOT project.

And about this time, the lights came back on. 

ORV ordinance

Marbleton town attorney Thayne Peterson drafted Ordinance 2021-06 to amend the town’s code “concerning off-road recreational vehicles in town” and its first reading was on that night’s agenda.

The ordinance defines Type 1, 2 and 3 ORVs that “unladen,” weigh less than 1,100 pounds.

“Off-road recreational vehicles may be operated on the streets, roads and travel routes under the control of the Town of Marbleton subject to compliance with the following requirements,” it says.

The ORV must have a current Wyoming ORV registration decal and the operator must have a valid license. It must yield to all traffic in the main-traveled road, have lights, adequate foot or hand brakes and a noise muffler that reduces noise to not more than 120 decibels at 20 inches in a stationary test.

“The way it’s drafted is allowing all the roads that Marbleton controls,” Peterson said.

With two more readings at August and September council meetings, Robinson said there will time to work through questions.

Robinson and councilmembers Karen Wenz, Jeff McCormick, BJ Meador and Roger McCormick via phone voted “aye” to approve the first reading. 

In other news

  • The council voted to extend the odd-even watering days through July.
  • Councilmembers discussed Marbleton’s joining the new Sublette County Visitor Center joint powers board and the need to promote south county. McMannis volunteered, which the council approved.
  • Rep. Sommers provided a detailed 2021 legislative update and addressed a citizen’s comment that the Wyoming Legislature and state seem to be “making more attempts to chip away at local control.”

“I am not in support of that. I think you all make better decisions than we all do,” Sommers said.

  • Flicks ‘N Pins will celebrate its 10th anniversary with customer appreciation prizes, barbecue and raffles on Saturday, Aug. 7.
  • The council approved first readings of two more ordinances, both to do with animals. Ordinance 2021-04 aligns the town’s animal abuse code to reflect new state legislation and Ordinance 2021-05 to change a “kennel” permit to a “multiple animal” permit.
  • It approved the third and final reading of Ordinance 2021-03, Fences and Walls.

The council also approved Building Permit 2021-03 from Brad Eves to build a cooler at Waterhole #3.

  • Sam Bixler reported the county proposes a rent-free lease for its ballfields; councilmembers wanted authority to enforce town regulations and to negotiate certain terms. The topic is tabled until the August meeting.
  • Todd Brown asked if Forsgren Associates’ engineer Todd Hurd could look at feasibility and costs to restore, redrill or rehab Well No. 2, which is filled with silt. The council approved the motion.
  • The council adjourned into an executive session to discuss potential litigation.

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