Hot Springs County hosts resource tour featuring developmentWritten by Curt Cox
Tour stops included the newly completed Red Rock Business Park in Thermopolis, Lofink Farms and the recently constructed Wyoming Whiskey Distillery. Deputy Chief of Staff of the Governor’s Office and formerly of Thermopolis, Ryan Lance was the keynote speaker for the event.
Sponsoring organizations included the Hot Springs County Weed and Pest, University of Wyoming Cooperative Extension Service, Hot Springs Conservation District, NRCS and the Wyoming Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Division.
According to Marvin Andreen of the Hot Springs County Weed and Pest, they have held a tour annually for a number of years, but this year’s tour was different from past tours.
“We’ve went into different drainages and looked at CRM projects and the ranching industry and different things,” said Andreen. “We just wanted to focus on some of the subdivision issues and some of the interface issues between subdivisions and the rural communities, and what impact it is having. We felt this would be a good way of letting more people see some of the issues we are dealing with. This is a good location for us to do that.”
During the tour stops representatives from a number of different organizations and government entities covered a wide array of topics associated with rural and urban interface with many focusing primarily on subdivisions. A common theme amongst the presenters was the importance of proper planning in relation to subdivision creation. Many gave specific examples of how communities have been negatively impacted by improperly planned or implemented subdivisions.
As an example, Mike Baker, area farmer and irrigation district board member, gave an example of how, until recent legislation was enacted to address the problem, water rights could be given up on subdivided land without notification being given to the affected irrigation district. Thus, those water rights could be permanently lost to lesser rights holders further downstream.
In addition, Vern Lofink, another area farmer, discussed his family’s diversified farming operation. Local rancher and businesswoman Billy Jo Norsworthy also shared the story of how her business, Lucy’s Sheep Camp, has progressed from a simple idea into a successful business.
During his speech, Lance covered a variety of topics including the Governor’s “Building the Wyoming We Want” program, his office’s concerns about wind energy development in the state and the importance in maintaining a strong agricultural base in Wyoming’s communities.
The final tour stop was held in Kirby at the Wyoming Whiskey Distillery. According to Donna Nally of Wyoming Whiskey, who along with her husband Steve is overseeing construction of the distillery and production of the product, they hope to begin distilling their first batch of bourbon within the next several weeks. Nally stated that it is their intention to use as many Wyoming grown products in the production of the bourbon as is possible. This includes Wyoming-grown corn, wheat and barley as well as artesian water from the Worland area. As bourbon distilling is not commonplace in Wyoming, they are not sure how long it will take for the bourbon to mature. It is their best estimate that they will be able to start selling their product in the next four to five years.