Lander, WY – The opal discovery in central Wyoming has prompted the Bureau of Land Management to make 360 acres off-limits to vehicles. The idea is to protect the Desert Yellowhead, a foot-tall, sunflower-like plant that's listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The closure comes about three weeks after the Wyoming Geological Survey announced the discovery of opal in the area. The closed area does not include the opal deposits. But the BLM says the closure will remain in effect until the plant is no longer at risk from vehicles.
Cheyenne, Wy – Wyoming Game and Fish officials say a program designed to open private land to those who hunt and fish is short of money. Over two point four million acres of land is accessible because of the Private Lands Public Access program administered by the Game and Fish Department. The program relies on the donations of interested individuals. But according to Game and Fish access coordinator Matt Buhler donations are down. He thinks the there are several reasons for this, but the increase in license fees may be keeping some from donating money.
Cheyenne, Wy – Kinder Morgan is looking to continue its Choice Gas Program of having consumers lock in natural gas rates in the spring. But Wyoming Consumer Advocate Bryce Freeman continues to oppose the plan. While Kinder Morgan says it keeps consumers from paying for unexpected increases, Freeman says it also keeps consumers from enjoying price decreases. Freeman says that if consumers had stayed with what is called the regulated rate over the last three years, they would have paid less money for gas, then choice gas consumers.
Washington, DC – Wyoming Senator Craig Thomas has indicated he may run for a third term in office. Thomas told the Political State Report that he was planning to run again, although he was not formally declaring his candidacy yet. Thomas is up for re-election in 2006.
Cheyenne, Wy – In his comments to a draft environmental impact statement, Governor Dave Freudenthal wants more clarity from the Bureau of Land management on the types of mineral development that will occur in the Great Divide area. Freudenthal is critical that the management plan lacks clarity and specifics. The Governors Press Secretary Lara Azar says Freudenthal is trying to avoid legal hang-ups.
Norman, Oklahoma – Investigators say a University of Oklahoma student from Wyoming found dead in her campus apartment argued with her boyfriend before her death and had contusions on her back. A police affidavit says Sarah Dawn Tolin's boyfriend, Joe Blackwolf, called 9-1-1 on March seventh and reported that she had hanged herself. When officers arrived, they found Tolin on a bedroom floor and a computer cord tied around the doorknob. According to the affidavit, Blackwolf told police the couple
Laramie, Wy – Census figures show that there are ten thousand fewer school aged children then five years ago. That has many school officials wringing their hands, since school funding is based on enrollment. But a Cheyenne economist thinks things will improve. Dick O'Gara predicts that more school age children are coming to the state, mostly because of the economic improvements he sees throughout the state.
Casper, WY – The long-standing drought has already prompted water-use restrictions in the City of Casper. The Casper City Council approved voluntary water restrictions last night. And City Manager Tom Forslund expects the restrictions will become mandatory next month. He says that will happen if the state places a call on North Platte River water and that can only be avoided if there's a run of cool weather and heavy precipitation.