A disputed public-access case in Uinta County is likely to be decided by the courts, according to a Wyoming assistant attorney general.

Bob Nicholas, representing the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, said the issue of access to the Woodruff Narrows dam northeast of Evanston and the reservoir shoreline will probably be settled by a judge.An attorney representing a reservoir company composed of mostly Utah ranchers has responded to a solution offered by the state of Wyoming to the long-standing dispute.

Nicholas said Richard Skeen said he will allow improvements to begin on an existing road to the dam, but the men have not agreed on dam access.

"The issue revolves around what kind of access there is to the shoreline of Woodruff Narrows, including parking access," Nicholas said. "And also what kind of access exists to the dam, so that the dam can be used as access to the shoreline on the other side."

Wyoming contends that both foot and vehicle access are provided for sportsmen in agreements between the state and the reservoir owners. He said an agreement was signed in the late 1960s and revised in 1979, after a Game and Fish boat ramp was inundated by the reservoir. Nicholas said the Game and Fish Department actually purchased access to the reservoir for about $20,000, which included public-access parking lots.

The state and the reservoir company "have varying ideas of what the contract says and what the rights are," Nicholas said. "They say there is no access across the dam. They're also arguing there is not access to the entire shoreline of the lake, once you get proper access to the shoreline."

He said he is 95 percent sure that they will not come to an agreement on access to the dam or the shoreline, and that he will go to district court in either Cheyenne or Evanston for a declaratory judgment. The judgment is a statement of rights of the state and the reservoir company.