Click here to watch Commissioner Terry Wolf’s testimony.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), welcomed Wyoming’s Washakie County Board of Commissioners Chair Terry Wolf to the committee. Commissioner Wolf was testifying before the committee at an oversight hearing on “Flood Control Infrastructure: Safety Questions Raised by Current Events.” The hearing also featured testimony from Lieutenant General Todd Semonite, commanding general and chief of engineers for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Chairman Barrasso introduced Commissioner Wolf to the committee prior to his testimony. “I would now like to welcome Washakie County Commissioner Terry Wolf,” said Barrasso.
“Terry Wolf is the chairman of the Washakie County Commission in Worland, Wyoming. Commissioner Wolf is a former member of the Wyoming Army National Guard. He has a degree in Administration of Justice from the University of Wyoming. Commissioner Wolf moved back to Worland in 1995 to work in the oil and gas industry.
“Upon transitioning out of the National Guard in 2001, Commissioner Wolf ran for a seat on the Washakie County Commission and was sworn into office in January 2003. Commissioner Wolf is past president of the Wyoming County Commissioners Association, and is currently first vice-president of the Wyoming Association of County Officers. He also serves on the National Association of Counties Public Lands Steering Committee.
“During his 15 years as a county commissioner, he has represented the county as a federal cooperating agency on the Big Horn National Forest Plan Revision and the Big Horn Basin BLM Resource Management Plan Revision. Welcome to the committee, Commissioner Wolf,” said Barrasso.
In his written testimony, Commissioner Wolf highlighted a common flooding issue in northwest Wyoming that seriously affects many rural communities in the area. In the winter, ice blocks develop around an island in the Big Horn River, obstructing the natural river flow and causing major floods affecting homes and businesses in surrounding communities. Just weeks ago, they experienced another flood.
“We are still evaluating the total costs to our communities in damage and clean-up costs, but estimates of state and local costs will likely exceed $150,000,” said Commissioner Wolf.
“While this flood is heartbreaking by itself, what is important for the committee to know is that what happened in Worland a couple weeks ago is almost identical to the flooding in 2014.”
Wolf detailed how it was determined that removing the island would prevent the ice buildup and subsequent floods. Doing so, however, “is much too large for a community as small as ours to tackle on our own,” Wolf said.
In his testimony, Wolf also praised the passage of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act, which requires the use of new technologies to help develop flood prevention infrastructure.
Wolf called on Congress to remember rural areas when developing flood control legislation. “I am here to ask for both the Army Corps of Engineers and your help to ensure that as you move forward with funding infrastructure projects of great importance to the nation, that you do not forget these small projects in rural areas that are of critical importance to our local communities.”