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Proposed flood wall near Lander city park raises public debate

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Taylar Stagner
Next to Lander Park is Fremont Street, a proposed location for a flood wall to protect the city from a possible flood event. Some residence say that they haven't been consulted enough.

The City of Lander this month approved an impact study from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers for a two thousand foot long flood wall to be built near City Park. The City of Lander has been looking into solutions for possible extreme flooding from the Popo Agie River since the 1990s.

The Lander assistant mayor Rajean Fossen said the wall would affect residential and private property.

“There were properties identified along Fremont Street that needed construction easements, should a structure be built. And there were properties identified that will be a danger to themselves in the city causing a lot of risk of loss of life and a lot of damages,” she said.

Two businesses and around forty residences would have to be addressed if the flood wall is built.

Raine Lesher owns property that would be affected by this wall. They spoke at a Lander City Council meeting and said she was disappointed in the lack of communication about the project.

“But I feel that we as citizens of Lander were very much kept in the dark about this. And it's very upsetting to me. It's going to be an eyesore,” they said.

They said that the public comment period on this project was in 2020, a stressful year when public meetings were difficult.

Fossen said she has been reaching out to contact those in the Lander’s flood plain since 2017. According to the City, they want to prepare for a statistically possible extreme flood event that would risk loss of life and the loss of twelve hundred structures in Lander.

If approved, it would be constructed in 2024. The final decision for the wall is expected to take place in March of next year when the design of the wall is largely finalized.

Taylar Dawn Stagner is a central Wyoming rural and tribal reporter for Wyoming Public Radio. She has degrees in American Studies, a discipline that interrogates the history and culture of America. She was a Native American Journalist Association Fellow in 2019, and won an Edward R. Murrow Award for her Modern West podcast episode about drag queens in rural spaces in 2021. Stagner is Arapaho and Shoshone.
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