LOVELL, Wyoming (STPNS) -- A push by the state toward regional landfills has prompted the Park County commissioners to extend an invitation to Big Horn County to take part in a regional landfill system. The move presumably would mean trucking waste from this county to the Park County Landfill near Cody.

Big Horn County Commission chairman Keith Grant said making a decision at this time would be preliminary.

"Preparing an Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan is a sizeable undertaking," stated a letter sent by the Park County commissioners. "It will take from several months to more than a year to complete. This includes acquiring necessary data, giving the team time to review the information and create alternatives and allowing for public input. You may choose to join our team or landfill permittees may develop their own ISWMPs. Inform us in writing by April 30, 2007, if you wish to participate in the ISWMP being spearheaded by Park County or have decided to join an alternate group."

New legislation that would require landfill managers to submit the plans to the DEQ by 2009 was necessary because a large number of Wyoming landfills are leaking contaminates into the ground.

Park County Landfill manager Dave Hoffert said at a recent meeting in Cody that he intended to put out a call for bids to have a liner installed at the existing site. The landfill geography with high clay content in the soil and the isolated location makes the Park County site ideal for a regional facility, he said.

The South Big Horn County Solid Waste District board discussed the letter from Park County at its regular meeting Tuesday, April 17, and forwarded the information to the Big Horn County Commission for consideration.

The county commission, as the landfill permittee through the state, must determine the future plans for garbage in Big Horn County and must sign off on the letter to DEQ, according to Grant.

South Big Horn Landfill manager Dave Warfel participated in meetings earlier this year in Park County when landfill, recycling and solid waste collection surveys of the area landfills were conducted.

Howard Johnson of Inberg-Miller Engineering in Riverton presented several options for deciding whether or not to join forces with neighboring landfills for a regional site.

"Every option should be considered before a final decision is made. I can already see the effects of 'polarization,'" Johnson told the landfill board. "Park County is convinced it (the regional landfill) should be located there. Worland says it should be there."

One scenario has Big Horn County going it alone, with a transfer station constructed at the existing south-end landfill and garbage being trucked to the north-end landfill that is more viable.

The more likely scenario has Big Horn County joining forces with the other counties for a regional landfill system, with as much as 90 percent of the costs of the work plans paid for by the EPA.

"Whatever plan you come up with, it has to be good for the next 20 years," Johnson said.

Johnson designed Fremont County's regional landfill system that has successfully reduced the number of landfills in that county from 110 to only 10 through the use of transfer stations, garbage baling, and composting and recycling promotion.

The Environmental Protection Agency is offering to pay up to 90 percent of the costs of in-depth work plans due in 2009 - with higher percentages going to regional landfills with multiple participants - for all of the landfills in Wyoming. The studies cost about $50,000 per landfill, Johnson said.