PINEDALE – County commissioners from 15 western states converge on Pinedale next week, Oct. 9-11, to talk about shared issues and perhaps take a look at how Sublette County handles some of its business.
It’s a board meeting of the Western Interstate Region, and it’s happening here because Sublette County Commissioner Joel Bousman is currently president of the organization. The WIR typically holds its October meeting in or near the hometown of the president, Bousman explains.
Bousman, who ranches on the west slope of the Wind River Range about 13 miles southeast of Boulder, said the meeting likely will bring at least one representative from each the states that make up the WIR. According to the organization’s website, those states are Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, North Dakota and South Dakota.
“We have so much in common. They have the same issues that we do,” Bousman said. “County commissioners from all over the West will be here in our little community.”
Though the main day of the meeting is Tuesday, those attending will arrive on Monday and many will stay until Wednesday, when one of the wrap-up activities may include, weather permitting, a demonstration of county-funded Tip Top Search and Rescue.
The Western Interstate Region is affiliated with the National Association of Counties, but has a regional focus on issues that affect the West the most.
“The western states are generally more focused on public lands issues,” Bousman said.
The meeting comes even as the Wyoming County Commissioners Association decided last week to honor Bousman with its “Riding for the Brand” award for outstanding work as a county commissioner. It’s the state organization’s acknowledgement that he’s doing important work on public lands and other issues important to the counties of Wyoming through his leadership role in the Western Interstate Region.
The organization said in a news release Wednesday that the Riding for the Brand award is presented to a Wyoming County Commissioners Association member “who has gone above and beyond for his county, the WCCA, and the state of Wyoming.”
Bousman was singled out for leadership on such issues as working with the Bureau of Land Management to try to bring better local data into play in the decision-making process.
“The result was a dramatic change in the way BLM handles local socioeconomic data, not only for Sublette County, but for the entire West,” said WCCA President Rob Hendry. “Being ready to successfully advocate for your county and the state with federal agencies is a tough slog with no promise of reward. But the rewards have come anyway, and Joel has led the way.”