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County to handle Dubois roads for national forest, badlands access

Oct 20, 2016 By Daniel Bendtsen, Staff Writer

Fremont County Commissioners have agreed to maintain Kingfisher Road near Dubois to allow access to the state badlands northeast of town.

Now the county also plans to maintain Warm Spring Creek Road for a half-mile stretch that provides access to the Shoshone National Forest near Union Pass.

Both roads previously had been maintained by the county until superintendent Dave Pendleton realized they had never been officially accepted as county roads and Kingfisher Road had liability concerns. Pendleton informed local residents that "state law limits counties' use of public funds to maintaining established county roads."

Over the past few months, Dubois residents have showed up to county board meetings, pushing to have these roads bladed and snow-plowed once more.

The official establishment of a county road can be a tedious process: First, the county needs to accept a petition for maintenance and then advertise its intent for both roads in the newspaper. After hearing objections from any residents and appointing an authorized viewer to make sure they meet the county's standards, the county has to hold public hearings.

Both roads had issues that needed to be resolved before the county could make a decision.

Warm Spring Creek Road had a right-of-way concern that's now resolved and Kingfisher Road needs High Plains Power to remove three poles to prevent any risk of liability to the county.

When the county unexpected stopped maintaining both roads a few years ago, it created frustration among Dubois residents.

Several landowners wrote to complain that the discontinuance of maintenance for Warm Springs Creek Road had strained access to a spring that residents rely on year-round for household needs.

The degradation to Kingfisher Road made it harder for homeowners to access their own property.

Once the power poles from Kingfisher Road are removed, Pendleton said he expects to spend $40,000 on dirt work and another $15,000 on graveling to improve the road.

Several residents asked commissioners to also maintain the road from Mason Drive to state lands.

Chairman Doug Thompson said that remains "subject for discussion in the future," but that would require the width of that road section to be increased.

"There is no place in the state of Wyoming that's like Kingfisher Road," county board chairman Doug Thompson said.

The Never Sweat Recreation Board of Dubois has earmarked a grant to improve the trailhead's facilities, but the board has indicated it wants maintenance of the road before releasing those funds.

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