(Fremont County, WY) – Last week on April 14, a government-to-government meeting was held between the Fremont County Commissioners, Wind River Inter-Tribal Council, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs to discuss the transfer of 4 county roads.
The transfer of Trout Creek, North Fork, South Fork, and Ethete roads to the National Tribal Transportation Facility Inventory (NTTFI) has been an ongoing conversation that picked up steam in the last few months.
Issues over ownership of the roads and funding was discussed at length.
According to Commissioner Clarence Thomas, there has been ongoing confusion about ownership of the roads, with the County, BIA, and the Tribal Council all at a loss about who is officially responsible for maintenance funds and general upkeep.
While it may seem like the transfer should be a somewhat easy process, ownership of roads first must be proved, then officially vacated, then adopted by those seeking ownership – in this case the Tribes – which then must all be approved at a Congressional level, with constant federal involvement.
“It could take a number of years if done this way,” Thomas stated.
However, thanks to the open communication and government-to-government approach, a potential solution with a less extensive time frame was landed on.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) concerning 17 Mile Road, could potentially be revisited and altered so that the 4 roads in question would also be included in that agreement. This would enable the Tribal Council to have access to federal funds only made available to the Tribes, who would then be in charge of maintenance and upkeep of the roads.
While this MOU update won’t happen overnight, it will be a much quicker option than a straight transfer of ownership.
According to Commissioner Mike Jones, because of the government-to-government approach, “Members of all parties involved expressed interest in more frequent conversations about working together.”
County 10 will closely follow any updates on the matter in the following weeks.
To view all of County 10’s coverage on the transfer process, click here.