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Barrasso: Police Reform is Possible if Democrats Don’t Filibuster

in Crime/News
4996

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U.S. Sen. John Barrasso on Monday expressed cautious optimism for passage of federal police reform legislation if politics don’t get in the way.

Appearing on CNN, Barrasso told John King that approval for bipartisan legislation to enact police reform looks promising because the House bill and the Senate bill agree on so much.

“There is about a 70% overlap and agreement on these bills,” Barrasso said. “This is a good place to start.”

“With body cameras on officers, with doing the sorts of things that eliminate bad police officers, and giving the good cops the resources that they need, the accountability, the training, all of sorts of things that you have better results on the streets,” he said.

One sticking point has been the issue of qualified immunity — a legal doctrine created through court rulings that shields police officers from civil lawsuits. 

When asked if that issue could be on the table, Barrasso punted while signaling his distaste for it.

“That’s a legal term and it has to do with how many police officers we can sue.  And I want to find out how many people we can save in terms of saving their lives,” he said.

Still, the senator said he was optimistic because of bipartisan efforts made recently with the CARES Act for the coronavirus epidemic and the Great American Outdoors Act to support deferred maintenance projects on federal lands.

He also said there is a real spirit of bipartisanship in the weekly Senate prayer breakfast he attends. 

“We have a history of doing bipartisan legislation,” Barrasso said.  “We need to make sure the Democrats don’t filibuster and Chuck Schumer has been threatening that.”

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Visit Sweetwater County: How To Experience Rock Springs And Green River

in Tourism
5008

TUBING IN GREEN RIVER

Looking to cool off? Rent a tube or a kayak at White Mountain Lumber Tube and Kayak in Green River, and head toward Expedition Island to launch down the area’s lazy river. Or take it up a notch and experience the Green River Whitewater Park and Tubing Channel.

MOUNTAIN BIKING IN GREEN RIVER

Both a local favorite and one of the best trail systems in Wyoming, the Wilkins Peak Trail System allows mountain bikers of all levels to experience Sweetwater County’s unique landscape. Just outside of Green River, 20 miles of biking trails are accessible for a day of adventure. Rent your bike at Bike and Trike in Rock Springs before heading out to the trails. Start with the basics and get warmed up by biking the Channel Surfing trail, rated as beginner, and then see if you can tackle some of the more difficult trails including TNT and Pick Your Poison.

SEE WILKINS PEAK TRAILS [PDF]

HIKING IN ROCK SPRINGS

Located north of Rock Springs, White Mountain is the perfect place to start hiking in Sweetwater County. Those looking for an easier hike or interested in historic sites should follow the short path to the White Mountain Petroglyphs. Discover sandstone etchings from American Indians who inhabited the area hundreds of years ago on this all-level trail. 

For another challenge, visitors can hike to the summit of Pilot Butte, situated atop White Mountain. This extraordinary landmark is the second highest point in the immediate region at 7,949 feet above sea level. Visitors are able to hike to the summit with opportunities to see wild horses and panoramic views of Sweetwater County’s western landscape.

SEE ALL TRAIL AREAS >

WATER RECREATION IN FLAMING GORGE COUNTRY

Just south of Rock Springs and Green River is an oasis of natural beauty. The Lake Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area offers visitors opportunities to camp, boat, fish and more with 360 miles of shoreline and more than 700 campsites. Bring your own equipment or rent water skis, jet skis or boats from one of the marinas around the lake as you reconnect with the great outdoors. Take a scenic drive along the Flaming Gorge Scenic Byway to reach this breathtaking destination. 

These are just a few ideas that will inspire you to get outside and explore Sweetwater County. Browse our Rock Springs and Green River trip ideas for more incredible paths to adventure. 

27 New Coronavirus Cases; Almost Half Of Wyoming Counties Affected

in Coronavirus/News
4990

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

New coronavirus cases were reported in almost half of Wyoming’s 23 counties on Monday, with 27 new cases surfacing in 11 counties.

The Wyoming Health Department, in its daily coronavirus update, said Uinta County posted the highest number of new cases on Monday, 10. Other counties with new cases were Albany, Converse, Fremont, Laramie, Natrona, Park, Platte, Sublette, Sweetwater and Teton.

The statewide increase — the largest seen since May 6 and the second-largest since the pandemic reached Wyoming in mid-March — brought the total number of confirmed cases seen in the state to 974.

As of Monday, Fremont County had 296 cases; Laramie County had 137; Uinta County had 120; Natrona County had 83; Teton County had 80; Sweetwater County had 48; Campbell and Washakie counties had 34; Albany had 27; Converse, Johnson and Sheridan had 15; Carbon had 13; Lincoln and Park had 11; Big Horn and Hot Springs had nine; Crook had six; Goshen had four; Sublette had three, and Platte had two. Niobrara and Weston counties had one case each.

Recoveries since the first reported case of the disease increased by 21 on Monday to total 931, including 729 among those with confirmed cases and 202 among those with probable cases.

Probable cases are defined as those where a patient shows symptoms of coronavirus and has been in contact with someone with a confirmed case but has not been tested for the illness. The number of probable cases seen in Wyoming was 256.

The number of active cases in Wyoming on Monday was 281. Patients with confirmed cases accounted for 227 active cases, while those with probable cases made up 54 of the active cases.

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Wyoming Home To Oldest-Known Prehistoric Mine In North, South America

in Mining/News
4981

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming is home to the oldest-known prehistoric mine in at least two continents and a state agency is working to help preserve it.

In a release from the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, the department announced its plans to preserve the Powars II Paleoindian Archaeological Site in Sunrise, believed to be the oldest known mining operation in both North and South America.

DEQ partnered with a number of individuals to preserve the 13,000-year-old ochre mine so archaeologist can study the site for years to come.

Ochre is a powdery mineral that some Native American tribes use as a pigment for a variety of ritualistic purposes. It comes in a variety of natural colors, but the ochre in Sunrise is red.

Former Sunrise resident Wayne Powars first discovered the site in 1939 or 1940, but didn’t report his findings until 1986, right before the mine was scheduled to razed. DEQ wasn’t aware of the mine until Powars revealed it.

“This can’t be the only one around, but it’s just so unusual. And it’s a site that I think is telling us a lot about what was going on (back then) and some of the first people that came to Wyoming,” archaeologist George Frison said.

Clovis points, also known as arrowheads, have been found at the Powars site, something Frison said will help determine who were the first people to come to Wyoming.

Archaeologist George Zeimans said the Powars site is unique not only because it’s believed to be the oldest mining operation on two continents but because of the number of artifacts being found at the site.

“(At) a lot of these Clovis sites, you’re lucky to find two or three artifacts, and you learn what you can from them. But this is an extremely rich site,” Zeimans said. “We’ve got over 80 Clovis points out of this site.”

The site includes not only the mine but also a toolstone quarry, which likely means the people were creating tools at the mine, using them and bringing them back.

The research on the site is currently funded by a private group of collectors and archaeology enthusiasts.

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Yellowstone Grizzlies To Be Captured (For Science)

in News/Yellowstone
4988

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A number of grizzlies will be captured from Yellowstone National Park beginning next week, but it’s all in the name of research.

According to a news release from the National Park Service, field captures will begin on June 27 and continue through Aug. 28. The captures are conducted by biologists with the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team.

These captures are part of an ongoing effort required under the Endangered Species Act to monitor the grizzly population.

Grizzly bears in and around Yellowstone remain on the Endangered Species List, despite the fact target numbers for the population to be considered safe were reached several years ago. The issue is a subject of ongoing litigation involving the state and federal governments and environmental organizations seeking to keep the bears on the list.

Capture operations can include a variety of activities, such as using natural food sources to attract the bears.

Potential capture sites are baited with natural foods and then culvert traps or foot snares are set in the area. Once captured, the bears are handled in accordance with strict safety and animal care protocols.

All areas where work is being conducted will have primary access points marked with warning signs. It’s critical the public heed those signs, the Park Service release said.

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27 New Coronavirus Cases on Monday; Uinta County Leads State in Active Cases

in Coronavirus/News
Coronavirus Wyoming
4989

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Uinta County, which has seen rapid growth in confirmed coronavirus cases In the last several weeks, now has the highest number of active cases in the state, according to state figures.

State figures show the county has 87 active cases, including 67 among patients with confirmed cases of coronavirus and 20 among patients with probable cases.

The figures from the state Department of Health show Uinta County accounts for almost one-third of total active cases in the state, 281.

As recently as two weeks ago, the state’s total number of active cases stood at 155. However, almost every day since then, the Wyoming has seen double-digit increases in the number of newly confirmed cases, with 27 new cases seen Monday, the highest single-day increase since early May.

Although the new cases have been scattered around the state, Uinta County has seen its number of cases almost quadruple in the last two weeks, growing from 32 to 120 as of Monday. Much of that increase has been attributed to a social gathering at a bar where social distancing was not observed.

The county that has the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases reported since the illness was first detected in the state in mid-March, Fremont at 296, has actually seen a slight decline in the number of its active cases in the last two weeks, from 66 to 64. The number includes 47 patients with confirmed coronavirus cases and 17 with probable cases.

A probable case is defined as one where the patient has not been tested for coronavirus, but shows symptoms of the illness and has been in contact with someone who has a confirmed case.

Currently, active cases statewide involve 54 patients with probable cases and 227 with laboratory-confirmed cases.

Six counties have no active coronavirus cases: Goshen, Hot Springs, Johnson, Lincoln, Niobrara and Weston.

Below is county-by-county list of active coronavirus cases:

Albany: 8

Big Horn: 4

Campbell: 14

Carbon: 7

Converse: 1

Crook: 1

Fremont: 64

Goshen: 0

Hot Springs: 0

Johnson: 0

Laramie: 22

Lincoln: 0

Natrona: 15

Niobrara: 0

Park: 10

Platte: 1

Sheridan: 1

Sublette: 2

Sweetwater: 22

Teton: 9

Uinta: 87

Washakie: 13

Weston: 0

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National Travel Site Selects Centennial as Wyoming’s “Must-Visit” Community

in News/Tourism
4985

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If you read the food, entertainment, and travel site “Thrillist”, you know they love to put together lists.

We paid close attention to their latest list entitled “The Must-Visit Small Town In Every State” and were pleased to find it included one of Wyoming’s own.

There’s a lot of must-visit small towns in Wyoming.  In fact, compared to many states, every town in Wyoming could be classified as a small town.

Regardless, the magazine chose the non-incorporated community of Centennial as their favorite pick. 

What kind of methodology did the writers use in selecting their favorite community?  None, really. All personal opinion.

We stand by their methodology — although there are many communities in Wyoming that would be the ranked No. 1, depending on who you asked.

What did they like about Centennial?

“This tiny outpost features all the best things about Wyoming — friendly bars, wide-open spaces, great music, and access to some of the most starkly beautiful outdoor recreation you’ll find anywhere,” they wrote.

They also like the party aspect:

“On a given weekend the town is liable to turn into a party, especially when the right bands are passing through, and it’s the home of the most truly great winter party you’ll ever find: The annual Poker Run (see the video above), where a few hundred well-lubricated skiers tumble down the mountain and crash-land in Centennial’s welcoming arms.”

If you plan to visit this must-visit community, get reservations. The writer obviously knows that it can only handle so many people.

“Sitting 8,000 feet up, 30 miles outside of Laramie at the foot of the Medicine Bow mountain range, Centennial consists mainly of a couple hotels and bars/music venues that play host to hikers, campers, skiers, and snowmobilers on their way into or out of the mountains.”

To read the full-list of every must-visit community in the country, check out their article.

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Visit Sweetwater County: Guide to Camping

in News/Tourism
4992

UNDER WYOMING’S WIDE OPEN SKIES

From OHVing and hiking to boating and fishing, stay close to the action in Sweetwater County.

Camping is one of the best ways to escape into nature and experience the area’s stunning landscapes.

Our guide to camping in and around Rock Springs and Green River will help you find the perfect campsite for your next outdoor adventure.

FIREHOLE CANYON CAMPGROUND

On the northeast shore of Flaming Gorge Reservoir, the Fire Hole Canyon Campground is located 30 miles south of Rock Springs. There are 40 paved, non-electric sites for tent and RV camping, each featuring a shaded cabana, picnic table and fire ring. Campground amenities include showers and restrooms, and drinking water. The lake offers opportunities for boating, water skiing, swimming and more. Campsites can be reserved up to six months in advance while some are available on a first come, first serve basis. The campground is open May through September.

In a Nutshell: You’ll wake up to beautiful views at this lakeside campground. The site is great for tent camping or RV camping if you don’t require electric hookups. Experience Lake Flaming Gorge with fewer crowds and don’t forget to bring your boat! Nightly rates range from $20-40.

BUCKBOARD CROSSING CAMPGROUND

The Buckboard Crossing Campground is located along the northwest shore of Flaming Gorge Reservoir next to the Buckboard Marina. The campground has 66 sites for tent and RV camping, several with electric hookups, shaded cabanas, grills and/or fire rings. Other basic amenities include showers, restrooms and drinking water. This site offers great opportunities for fishing, boating, water skiing, swimming, and more. Groceries, rentals, fuel and fishing licenses are conveniently available at the adjacent marina. Campsites can be reserved up to six months in advance while some are available on a first come, first serve basis. The campground is open May through September.

In a Nutshell: This is another campground great for watersports and closer to Rock Springs and Green River than the Lucerne Valley Campground. The adjacent marina is convenient if you need to rent a boat or purchase extra supplies. Nightly rates range from $20-28.

LUCERNE VALLEY CAMPGROUND

The farthest trek out of town is the Lucerne Valley Campground in Manila, Utah. The campground sits along the shores of Flaming Gorge Reservoir with more than 140 campsites for tent and RV camping. Cabin camping and group camping is also available here. Various loops offer differing amenities including electric hookups, showers and restrooms, shaded cabanas, picnic tables, fire rings and drinking water. Nearby recreational activities include fishing, boating, water skiing, swimming and more. The adjacent Lucerne Marina offers groceries, rentals, fuel and fishing licenses. Campsites can be reserved up to six months in advance while some are available on a first come, first serve basis. The campground is open May through September.

In a Nutshell: Stay in the heart of Lake Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. This larger campground is more central to trails, attractions and the visitor center. If you’re looking to rent a boat, the nearby marina is the place to go. Nightly rates range from $20-140. Full season rates are also available.

ROCK SPRINGS KOA

The Rock Springs KOA is just 15 minutes outside of downtown Rock Springs. This Kampsite of America location offers RV sites, tent sites and camping cabins year-round along with numerous amenities for a comfortable camping experience. Campground amenities include a general store, electric hookups, showers and restrooms, laundry facilities, WiFi and cable. Long-term camping is also available at weekly and monthly rates. With a swimming pool, playground and dog park, visitors of all ages can enjoy a variety of activities while camping here.  

In a Nutshell: If you’re willing to spend a little extra, this private campground has added amenities and services ideal for extended stays. It’s location is central to outdoor activities while still being conveniently close to the vibrant town of Rock Springs.

THE TRAVEL CAMP

Located off of I-80 and two miles from the town of Green River, The Travel Camp is a convenient campground with 71 full hookup sites for RV and tent camping. The Travel Camp has a full set of amenities including a general store, electric hookups, showers and restrooms, laundry facilities, WiFi, cable and fire pits. Long-term camping is also available at weekly and monthly rates. Nearby, anglers can walk just five minutes for fishing the Green River.

In a Nutshell: The Travel Camp is another private campground offering additional amenities that keep camping comfortable. It’s a great choice if you’re interested in fishing or extended stays with close proximity to business and attractions in the town of Green River. Nightly rates range from $20-38.

KILLPECKER SAND DUNES OPEN PLAY AREA CAMPGROUND

Just under an hour north of Rock Springs is the Killpecker Sand Dunes Open Play Area. The area has a developed campground featuring basic amenities including a vault toilet and fire rings. From the campground there is easy access to recreational activities such as hiking, horseback riding and ATVing. The Killpecker Sand Dunes is a valuable habitat for wildlife and requires special management to protect its resources. To protect this habitat, the area is closed to motorized vehicles from May through June. No fees or reservations are required to camp here.

In a Nutshell: This campground offers a more primitive escape into nature at no cost. Camping in this unique environment offers a one-of-a-kind experience and beautiful views of the high desert landscape. If you like adventure, activities are abound at these natural sand dunes.

Wyoming Among Top States Where Fatal Lightning Strikes Occur

in Don Day/News/weather
4978

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming is among the top 10 states where fatal lightning strikes occur, according to the National Weather Service.

In a graphic posted to the NWS Cheyenne’s Facebook page kicking off Lightning Awareness Safety Week, it showed that Wyoming, Colorado and eight other states across the country had the most lightning strike fatalities over the last decade.

Meteorologist Don Day told Cowboy State Daily that Wyoming is such a target for lightning for a few reasons.

“We live in a place with a high frequency of thunderstorms,” he explained. “Also, Wyoming has such wide open spaces and there are miles and miles with no trees. In a lot of situations, you’re the highest point and lightning has an easier time finding you.”

Wyoming’s peak thunderstorm season is from June to August, although storms usually start in March and end around October.

Since people recreate outdoors so frequently in Wyoming, fatal lightning strikes can happen while someone is hiking, climbing or walking along a ridge.

According to NWS, around 23 million cloud-to-ground lightning strikes occur every year in the United States, with approximately 290,000 of them occurring in Wyoming.

From 1984 to 2013, the U.S. averaged 51 lightning fatalities per year. Only around 10% of the people struck by lightning are killed, but the other 90% must cope with varying degrees of discomfort and disability, sometimes for the rest of their lives.

From 1959 to 2012, Wyoming was considered the first in the country in the number of lightning deaths and injuries per capita. Since 1995, all of the lightning fatalities in Wyoming have occurred in the mountains.

In Wyoming, lightning is responsible for more deaths and injuries than any other thunderstorm phenomena. From 1996 to 2013, lightning was attributed to eight fatalities and 70 injuries across the state.

Day noted that if anyone is looking to hike throughout the peak storm season, they should start early and wrap up their journey around noon or 1 p.m., since afternoons and evenings are usually when Wyoming’s storms develop.

Golfers should abide by similar guidelines and make note of lightning shelters at their local golf course.

Boaters should get back onto shore as quickly as possible when they begin to hear thunder and seek shelter immediately.

“The best course of action is to avoid situations where the risk of a lightning strike goes up,” Day said. “Lightning can defy logic. It’s crazy, it can do some amazing things. But these lightning strikes happen more often than you think and it’s a dangerous part of living out here.”

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17 New Coronavirus Cases in Wyoming on Sunday

in Coronavirus/News
4971

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Uinta County continued to lead the state in new coronavirus cases on Sunday, reporting seven new cases as the state’s total of confirmed coronavirus cases diagnosed since the illness was first detected in Wyoming grew to 947.

The Wyoming Department of Health, in its daily coronavirus update, said the state reported a total of 17 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, with Campbell, Fremont, Lincoln, Natrona, Sweetwater and Teton counties all joining Uinta in reporting new cases.

As of Sunday, Fremont County had 294 cases; Laramie County had 132; Uinta County had 110; Natrona County had 81; Teton had 79; Sweetwater had 45; Campbell and Washakie had 34; Albany had 26; Johnson and Sheridan had 15; Converse had 14; Carbon had 13; Lincoln had 12; Park had 10; Big Horn and Hot springs had nine; Crook had six; Goshen had four, and Sublette had two. Niobrara, Platte and Weston counties had one each.

The number of recoveries among those infected since the disease was detected in Wyoming also went up, totaling 909 on Sunday. The recoveries included 712 among those with confirmed cases and 197 among those with probable cases.

A probable case is defined as one where the patient has coronavirus symptoms and has been in contact with someone who has a confirmed case but has not been tested for the disease. As of Sunday, there have been 250 probable cases of coronavirus since mid-March.

The number of active cases totaled 270 on Sunday, including 217 among people with confirmed cases and 53 among those with probable cases.

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