The Wind River Indian Reservation could lose its trash disposal services if the tribes there do not negotiate a new contract with Fremont County before the existing one expires on December 14th.
In June, Fremont County overhauled the way it collects waste at transfer stations around the county. Now, residents can only drop off trash during certain hours when the stations and staffed, and they must pay disposal fees based on how much garbage they drop off. But the county doesn’t have the authority to make these changes for four transfer stations on trust land without a modified contract with the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone Tribes.
Fremont Solid Waste Superintendent Andy Frey says the tribes have two options: Give the county jurisdiction to change operation of those transfer stations, or take over operation of those stations themselves.
“It’s sort of our view that the ball is in their court, and we’re hoping to hear back from them soon,” Frey says.
But the tribes have balked at the options. Ryan Ortiz of the Wind River Environmental Quality Commission is a consultant for the tribes. He says the tribes are interested in taking over operation of those transfer stations, in part, to preserve tribal sovereignty and create jobs for tribal members. But, he says it would cost the tribes closer to $500,000 dollars a year to operate the stations and cover disposal fees.
“We know that it cost money to transport waste,” Ortiz says. “We think that, you know, asking us to take over a total expense to them, and then not getting a sufficient amount of money, and then having to pay those charges is where the unfair component of the transaction takes place.”
The groups will meet to discuss the contract again on October 25.