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Wyoming

Cheyenne - Earlier this year, when the Department of the Interior (DOI) proposed a department-wide reorganization effort, western states looked on the effort with trepidation, fearing the addition of new regions and regional coordinators would add another layer of bureaucracy.

Today, DOI’s nine agencies, include the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), share 61 regions across the country. The reorganization effort, led by DOI Senior Policy Advisor Susan Combs, would consolidate those regions into 13 areas defined by state lines. 

Within each region, a coordinator would be assigned to oversee and coordinate work among DOI agencies, with the goal of streamlining processes and improving efficiency. 

“When we first heard about this effort, there was concern it would just create another layer of bureaucracy,” explained Wyoming Stock Growers Association Executive Director Jim Magagna. “Instead of bringing decisions closer to the people, we were concerned it would add distance between people on the ground and decisions from DOI.”

He noted, however, that after Combs visited Wyoming to meet with the Natural Resource Coalition, as well as members of the conservation community and Wyoming County Commissioners, many concerns from the group were alleviated. 

Inside reorganization

Magagna explained, “One of the purposes of reorganization is to have a small team of people who would coordinate activities between DOI agencies and among more than just one state.”

Combs laid out several hypothetical situations to detail the point, explaining that if BLM and FWS were working on a project where both agencies were required to provide permits, the small team would help ensure efforts were not duplicated and projects aren’t delayed. 

“In the event the agencies weren’t working together well, the office would be a place where affected parties could ask a regional coordinator to step in,” Magagna said. “That person’s role would be to ensure coordination across state and regional boundaries, which makes a lot of sense.” 

In essence, Wyoming’s BLM office would continue to make the same decisions they make today, but if there was overlap with other agencies, a regional coordinator could help facilitate those efforts. 

Purpose

A regional coordinator or coordination team serves to create both internal and external efficiencies. 

“Internally,” explained Magagna, “this office would create some cost efficiencies.” 

He said, for example, a region may be able to operate with one Human Resources director or one person in charge of procurement, both of which would alleviate costs and create greater efficiency. 

“The external component is working with multiple agencies across boundaries to make processes more efficient,” he said.

As another example, if a project requires permitting from three agencies, today, each agency may conduct its own analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). If a project requires permits from three agencies that take six months each to complete their NEPA analysis, a project may take 18 months or longer. 

However, under a coordinated system, the agencies may be able to conduct a single analysis incorporating all concerns and factors from each agency. 

“There are ways to increase efficiency and expedite action, particularly on the permitting side, by reducing duplication of efforts,” Magagna said. 

He continued, “It’s also important to note, however, the U.S. Forest Service would not be a part of this effort because they are not in DOI.”

U.S. Forest Service is housed in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which adds a layer of complexity to the process. 

“In the future, coordination with agencies outside DOI may be possible, but that’s a project that will be considered in the future,” Magagna added. 

Pilot projects

While regions were originally drawn based on ecosystems and watershed, Magagna noted concerns from governors across the country led to a second regional split more closely reflecting state lines. 

Wyoming lies in the Upper Colorado Basin region with Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.

“A pilot project using a regional coordinator has been in place in Alaska, but that’s different because it only involves one state,” Magagna said. “DOI is considering a second pilot in the four-state Upper Colorado Basin Region. Part of the reason it fits well for this region is because all state have particularly high levels of energy development and grazing, so we see some commonality.” 

Magagna also mentioned that DOI looks for continued input on the pilot program, and Combs has indicated she will continue to look towards Wyoming’s agriculture, conservation and energy industries, as well as coordination with state and local governments, to implement and refine the pilot project.

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Casper – “Until I met Ty Murray a while back, I’d never heard the word ‘try.’ To me, ‘try’ meant to make an attempt. What I found out was it’s not just a verb, but it’s also a noun imbued with tremendous meaning,” Cowboy Ethics author and advocator Jim Owen told those in attendance at the Wyoming Cattle Industry 2010 Convention and Trade Show.
“When someone says a cowboy has try, it means he or she is giving it everything they have,” continued Owen. “I asked Ty what was the secret of his success, and he replied that his mother always said he was born with an extra supply of try.”
The Convention and Trade Show was hosted by the Wyoming Stock Growers Association and ran June 2-4 in Casper, with the theme “Under the Constitution” and a focus on bringing the United States and its government back to basics, a message addressed by Owen’s work with the Code of the West and cowboy try.
Six years ago Owen authored his first book, Cowboy Ethics, after what he calls an epiphany while viewing the film Open Range, starring Kevin Costner and Robert Duvall.
“The film is about two cowboys on a cattle drive who stand up for what’s right against overwhelming odds,” said Owen. “I realized that all the laws, regulations and corporate ethical mandates in the world don’t begin to solve the real problem behind our country’s troubles. Something essential in our way of live has been eroded – the clear sense of right and wrong that can only come from within.”
Owen said the iconic cowboy, with his code of honor, self-reliance and courage is a larger-than-life symbol of everything that’s made America great. “I want to help keep that spirit alive and in some small way help get our country back on track,” said Owen of the new direction his life took as he began tracking down what’s now known as the Code of the West.
“I started researching the Code of the West, and I watched classic movies and read Western books to find the enduring code of conduct every cowboy knew, even though it was never written down,” said Owen. “I translated what I found to be the unwritten code into 10 principles, and found myself in a new career. Having stumbled on life changing inspiration, I found myself in the business of inspiring others.”
Today Jim Owen and the Code of the West are brought into corporations, high schools and universities across the U.S. to spread the message on the code of conduct.
“If we want to fix our country’s problems, we’ve got to get back to the basics and the fundamental principles of right and wrong, and the core values that built our country, and personal character that resides within rather than ethics manual,” said Owen.
Owen said the power of the Cowboy Code is that it couldn’t be more relevant. “We all need a solid belief system and a moral compass when pervading culture goes against what we know in our hearts to be true,” said Owen. “The freedom to believe what we choose is what America’s all about, but there are absolute truths we all need to recognize and embrace.”
Returning to the concept of try, Owen said he’s learned in the rough, dangerous world that shaped cowboy culture, try was the difference between life and death, and giving up meant you and others would die.
“Today our challenges are different and more complex, and global,” he said, specifically pointing out today’s young people who accumulate massive amounts of debt in getting their degree in the bleakest job market in decades.
“A lot of us seem to have lost our can-do spirit, and that means we’ve lost faith in the country’s future. If America ever needed try, it’s now. To me, try is a core value in itself,” said Owen. “Focus, determination and drive are the qualities all people of great success and accomplishment have in common. In these tough economic times, we all need our own supply of try, and that goes double for young people.”
The “Try Campaign” is a major new initiative launched by Owen that targets schools, youth groups, organizations and businesses, with a new book releasing this September.
“The Try Campaign will inspire especially young people to reach for the best in themselves,” said Owen of the initiative. “A lot of people are content to just get by, and being average is good enough for them. What I’ve learned in the last six years is as Ty Murray told me, if you give it 110 percent in whatever you’re pursuing, you’re a winner already regardless of the outcome. All it takes is all you’ve got.”
Christy Hemken is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Thermopolis – For over 80 years, the Hot Springs County Fairgrounds has been hosting agricultural events in the community of Thermopolis.

“The fairgrounds were built in the early 1930s,” says Hot Springs County Fairgrounds Secretary Valerie Mead. “They also built the rock wall around the grounds at that time through a work program, since it was built on state land.”

Now, the fairgrounds teem with activity throughout the year, holding a reputation for excellent equine facilities.

“We have an indoor barn, an outdoor arena, about 100 horse stalls and lots of parking,” she explains.

In addition to the grounds themselves, the Hot Springs County Fairgrounds also boasts a scenic location that attracts many events.

“Our facility is most sought out due to the location and some of the things our town offers, such as the mineral hot pools, golf, eating establishments and the fairgrounds itself,” comments Mead.

Economy

With events booked every weekend throughout the winter and spring months, the fairgrounds draws a significant amount of business to Thermopolis, says retired Hot Springs County Fairgrounds Grounds Manager Martin Bader.

“I did some figuring here a few years ago, and the revenue brought into Thermopolis is in the thousands of dollars when we look at motels, cafés and the filling stations to fill those pickups with fuel,” he comments.

One season when there was a high school rodeo and seven other events, Bader estimated the total amount of money spent over that time period.

“The total hit around $100,000 by the time attendees paid their motel rooms, food, gas and everything else,” continues Bader.

He notes, while many tourists visit Thermopolis in the summer months, the winter months are typically slower for tourism.

“The events at the fairgrounds bring the city a lot of money in the wintertime when we don’t have any money coming from regular tourists,” he says.

Contests

The equine facilities at the Hot Springs County Fairgrounds provide opportunities for both local community members and individuals throughout the state.

“Every weeknight during the winter months, our facilities are booked for practice and roping events with local people,” says Mead.

The first weekend of the month begins with team roping and team branding.

She continues, “We have ranch sorting the second weekend of the month, starting in October and going through March.”

The Central Wyoming Cutting Show fills the third weekend of the month from October to March, while Cowboy State Stock Horse Show is the fourth weekend of each month from November to March.

Both large and small rodeo events find their home at the Hot Springs County Fairgrounds, with team roping, team branding and barrel racing events hosted throughout the year.

“We host the Wrangler Championship Team Roping. They are usually scheduled every year,” she says. “We also have a Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association (PRCA) rodeo every June for two days.”

Other rodeo events include the Kick ‘Em Up Cans Barrel Racing, the Wyoming Junior Rodeo Association Rodeo and the Lions Ranch Rodeo.

Local youth programs and horse clubs utilize the facilities for events such as the Central Wyoming Performance Horse Club Show.

“Last year was the first for the Gymkhana Series, which is horse games and fun for the very young on up to older youth,” explains Mead.

Other events

In addition to the excitement and thrills of competitions, the Hot Springs County Fairgrounds is also used for educational opportunities.

“At the end of August, we have the Weaver Working Cow Clinic and Roping Clinic, which is a five-day event,” says Mead.

She continues, “Every year in June is a Connie Combs Barrel Racing Clinic that takes place for three days.”

The facilities are also ideal for numerous other equine-related activities including showcases, auctions and sales.

“Every third Saturday of May and every second Saturday of September each year is the WYO Quarter Horse Sale,” she explains. “This draws people from all over the country.”

Changing

Recently, the fairgrounds transitioned to a new management, says Mead.

“The new grounds manager is Cahill Nettles,” she explains. “Martin Bader retired in April 2017 after working here and building up these events for 28 years.”

Mead notes that, after years of building a reputation as an excellent equine facility, in combination with other opportunities available in Thermopolis, the schedule for the fairgrounds stays full.

“The grounds are scheduled pretty tight, and many people love coming to Thermopolis,” continues Mead.

As such, one of the long-term goals for the fairgrounds is to expand the facilities.

“A goal one fair board member has in mind is to eventually add another indoor barn,” she concludes. “That would give us more room to book many more events.”

Emilee Gibb is editor of Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Natural disasters are unavoidable, but states are finding ways to help agricultural producers deal with the aftermath. Although most states have some kind of disaster plan in place, many times they aren’t fully developed until a natural disaster happens.

Tommy Bass, who is a livestock environment associate specialist with Montana State University, says as a delegate for the Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN), he is able to share ideas, knowledge, resources and disaster education with colleagues from other states. 

National network

EDEN is a national, territorial and international organization. 

“It enhances the power of response and adds depth to extension programming. It inspires program ideas because we get to see what other states go through when there is a natural disaster. It allows us to develop better intellectual and educational mutual aid,” he explains. 

EDEN has helped Montana officials develop the S-CAP (Strengthening Community Agrosecurity Preparedness) program. 

“We have benefited from other national experiences, and national delegates have come here and educated us by sharing their experiences,” Bass explains. 

The end goal is developing a plan for disaster response, whether it is a flood, fire or a train accident. 

“Through S-CAP, we have developed a plan and deployment. We also hold training and evacuation exercises,” he explains.

A livestock rescue and extrication plan has been developed, in case of a truck accident. 

“Our first instinct when that happens is to just cut the fence and let the animals that survived into the pasture, but that creates a biosecurity issue. This plan addresses that, as well as human and animal safety, welfare, proper euthanasia practices and containment,” Bass explains.

Hurricane aftermath

Texas is still addressing recovery efforts, after a major hurricane in 2017 caused flooding and catastrophic damages. 

Ron Gill, an Extension livestock specialist with Texas A&M University, says procedures are in place at state, regional and county agencies who work under the Texas Animal Health Commission, which is the lead agency for animal-related issues.

Each of the 154 counties in Texas have Extension personnel trained to assist county emergency management coordinators in animal-related issues. Four Extension livestock specialists also serve on the state’s animal response team, and 40 county Extension agents are on the state’s seven agricultural strike teams. 

These people have been through emergency management training and help keep communications open between agencies about animal health. 

“We also have Extension people devoted to helping with drought issues, like landscape and the home use of water, which can become contaminated after a flood. We had to do a lot of water well testing after Hurricane Harvey,” Gill says.

Every county in the state has a hurricane preparedness guide, which tells people where to go if they need to evacuate. 

Agricultural producers and companion animal owners can also call 2-1-1 to locate state shelters, where their animals may be housed after being rescued. 

“One area we need to address is identification for displaced livestock that haven’t been branded or ear-tagged,” he says.

EDEN influence

Texas has a EDEN program, which helps them with mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. Gill says they are currently addressing the recovery aspect of the plan. 

“Since the flooding, there are still a lot of areas with debris that haven’t been cleaned up. We have a big role in recovery, especially after flooding, and other disasters like fire,” he says. 

During Hurricane Harvey, 2.1 million head of livestock were displaced. The state was overcome with questions of where to relocate that many animals, as well as the impossible logistics of moving 40 cows per truck. 

“There were no acres or facilities available to handle that many animals,” Gill explains. “In some cases, our only choice was to move them to the highest spots, but sometimes that wasn’t even enough. They were still standing in four to five feet of water.”

Many producers returned after the disaster to find fences down that could take months to replace, as well as buildings, facilities and equipment destroyed. 

“In some cases, the infrastructure was torn up so badly that those ranches were forced to sell out because they had no place to keep their animals,” he explains.

“We need to develop a better plan to help us assess their needs and mobilize resources to help,” Gill explains. “We also need to better coordinate and distribute donated products throughout the disaster area.” 

“It can be a challenge to get feed to animals that can’t be relocated or moved,” he says. 

Northern drought

Carl Dahlen, North Dakota State University Extension beef specialist, tells producers the 2017 drought had severe implications for ranchers and their animals. 

“There was a shortage of feed, a shortage of water and quality issues for both,” Dahlen explains. “There were also many program and policy issues, and all that put together made for an extremely stressful situation for everyone.”

“It is a unique time when the agricultural economy itself is down, commodity prices are down, and a lot of outstanding loans are out there,” he explains. “There are a lot of questions regarding operating loans moving forward, and add to that the stress of a drought.”

North Dakota has focused on getting a team together, made up of Extension personnel, as well as representatives from various local, state and national agencies. Representatives from North Dakota’s congressional delegation and the governor’s office also served on the team. 

“What we did was have weekly meetings to share information, current conditions, the future outlook, program and policy updates and needs and discovery. We posted this information on the drought website,” Dahlen says.

Lessons learned

“The biggest learning curve in all of this has been developing a real appreciation for the experience each person on the team has. Everyone brings something different, and once we have that understanding, we can really move forward. We want to broaden our network using a holistic approach,” Dahlen says.

As a result of the drought, Dahlen says Extension personnel have had the opportunity to become better educated by conducting research to provide producers with much needed answers. One area of research was nitrate poisoning that was killing cattle. Nitrates had accumulated in the plants from drought stress. 

“If we didn’t have the answers, we would start collecting and analyzing samples to get the answers. It gave us good data moving forward and an opportunity for Extension agent-producer interaction,” he says. “Moving forward, we realize there will be lasting implications. But we feel more prepared to answer known questions, and we will be listening for new and developing issues.”

Gayle Smith is a correspondent for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Hyattville — Cowboys, cowgirls and old timers kicked up their heels in the old Western cow town of Hyattville during the 100th Annual Hyattville Old Timer’s Celebration. The celebration was held in conjunction with the National Day of the American Cowboy, on July 25.
    An estimated 350 people attended the celebration, including U.S. Senator Mike Enzi and his wife Diana.
    Earlier this year Enzi sponsored a resolution in the U.S. Senate declaring July 25, 2009 as “National Day of the American Cowboy.” Governor Dave Freudenthal declared the same day “Wyoming Old Timer’s Day.” The Hyattville Old Timer’s Association, Guardians of the Range and the Ten Sleep – Hyattville Lion’s Club banded together to create a joint celebration for the occasions.
    Participants enjoyed a day of free family fun with a picnic, street fair, kid’s games and activities, critter rides, lil’ buckaroo dummy roping, a worn-out cowboy boot contest and a street dance with a live band.
    A cowboy parade added to the excitement, as did a kid’s Western coloring contest, a silent auction, raffles and a log branding. Local musicians, including the Karhu family, Hub Whitt, the Rannells, Larry Ilg, Mark Cheshier and Carol Blakeman provided live entertainment throughout the afternoon.
    In the worn-out cowboy boot contest Michelle Smith of Newcastle triumphed in the women’s division, while Dennis Lee of Ten Sleep took the men’s division, each winning a $50 gift certificate for new boots. Emma Mercer of Hyattville won the people’s choice award for the most unique boots.  
    Bill Gould of Meeteetse won the Henry “Golden Boy” .22 Rifle and Connie Bicknell of Basin won the $500 gift certificate raffle to the stores of her choice. Both raffles were sponsored by the Guardians of the Range.
    B. Joe Coy of Cody and Floyd Moore of Douglas were the high bidders for the Lightning C cattle brands the Guardians sold through sealed bids. Steve Jones of Meeteetse donated the brands.
    The Guardians presented Historic Family Ranch Awards to seven ranches owned and operated by the same family for at least 100 years within the area the Guardians serve – the Big Horn Basin, Big Horn Mountains and surrounding communities. Recipients include the Mullins Family Ranch at Manderson, Clear Creek Ranch at Buffalo, Paint Rock Angus at Hyattville, Larsen Ranch at Meeteetse, 91 Ranch at Cody, Bennion Ranch at Meeteetse and the Diamond Tail Ranch at Shell.
    During the picnic the Old Timer’s crowned the Old Timer’s King and Queen based on attendees who had lived in Wyoming the longest. The honors went to Curtis Larsen of Meeteetse (1916) and Martha Mercer of Hyattville (1918). Attendants included Eddie Dvarishkis (1920), Betty Cope (1924), Phyllis Strong (1924), Margarite Gregg (1927), Bob Black (1927), Marion Black (1929), Jerry Brown (1931), Rob Orchard (1932) and Odie Wilkensen (1935). Grace Carlson, age 101, rode in the parade but was unable to attend the picnic and therefore was not included in the royalty.
    The Greer Ranch, Herman Ranch, Old Timer’s and Guardians of the Range provided the roast beef for the picnic at the Medicine Lodge State Archaeological Site. The Paintrock Punchers 4-H Club served food and beverages downtown through the afternoon and evening.
    The Guardians of the Range, Hyattville Old Timer’s Association and the Ten Sleep - Hyattville Lion’s Club sponsored the revelry. The Guardians are a non-profit organization dedicated to sound science and community partnership in public land management. They address grazing issues on behalf of grazing permit holders on the Shoshone and Bighorn National Forests, the Cody, Worland, Lander BLM resource management areas and their surrounding communities.
    Guardians Executive Director Kathleen Jachowski says she is thrilled the Guardians could combine their Cowboy Day events with the Old Timer’s landmark celebration.
    American Cowboy magazine launched the National Day of the American Cowboy campaign in 2004 to acknowledge and preserve the heritage, history and culture of America’s cowboys and cowgirls. The late U.S. Senator Craig Thomas sponsored the first NDAC resolution and the first NDAC celebration occurred July 23, 2005. President George W. Bush issued a statement of support for the resolution that same year. After Senator Thomas’ death in 2007, U.S. Senator Mike Enzi took over as the Senate sponsor in 2008 and 2009. The resolution will have to be reintroduced each year until it is officially designated a national day of observance by the President.
    “The Hyattville community has reached a milestone – 100 years of celebrating the ranching heritage and the people that helped form the foundation for this great community,” comments Linda Hamilton, Old Timer’s President. “Great milestones like this one are a result of many years of dedication and a strong sense of community pride. We are proud that Governor Freudenthal recognized the importance of this celebration and declared July 25, 2009, as ‘Wyoming Old Timer’s Day.’”
    Hyattville, a Western cow town at the base of the Big Horn Mountains, was founded in the 1880s and was originally known as Paintrock until 1886 when Sam W. Hyatt became its first postmaster. Asa Mercer, author of the highly controversial – and now highly sought after – book, The Banditti of the Plains, also made Hyattville his home.
    Additional photographs from the celebration can be viewed at www.guardiansoftherange.org or www.hyattville.org.
    Echo Renner is a field editor for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. For more information, contact Kathleen Jachowski, Guardians Executive Director at 307-587-3723 or Linda Hamilton, Old Timer’s Association President at 307-469-2272.