Johnson County Opts For Buyout In Lake DeSmet Issue

Johnson County Opts For Buyout In Lake DeSmet Issue

Johnson County's Commissioners voted to move forward with Option No. 2, which will buy out Sheridan County, mirroring the decision made by Sheridan County at their special meeting Monday.

At their meeting earlier this week, Sheridan County's Commissioners unanimously backed a plan for Johnson County to buy out their interest in Lake DeSmet with the caveat to allow the proposed Game and Fish lease of water rights to proceed.

At their special meeting Thursday, Johnson County's Commissioners voted to back the same plan.

Members of the public at the meeting expressed concerns about water rights if Johnson County has control of the lake, which the commissioners assured them would not change.
The public was also overwhelmingly in favor of the Game and Fish lease and for both counties to move forward and work together with the LDCC Joint Powers Board in the future.

One question repeatedly asked by the public was why the Johnson County Commissioners are willing to back the lease now that Sheridan County has said they would allow the buyout. The commissioners answered by saying they are still not in favor of the lease but are at least willing to look at all options on the table, including the lease and buyout, but also other options that may come up in negotiations.

Johnson County Commission Chair Smokey Wildeman said the vote in favor of Option 2 at Thursday's meeting did not set anything in stone but opened the door for further talks and negotiations, and Sheridan County Commissioner Mike Nickel said negotiations would continue.

What remains is negotiating between the county commissions and their legal counsel to determine where this issue goes from here.

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