A section of the North Platte River, between Gray Reef and Casper, may receive new commercial permits for fishing due to increased annual demand. The Bureau of Land Management put out a request for public comment to learn more about how recreationists want to use the stretch between Gray Reef and Casper.
New permits were limited back in 2006, when it was unclear how increased use and fishing would impact the ecosystem. The limit would have been lifted once a capacity study was conducted, but the BLM has not been able to afford it. BLM Outdoor Recreational Planner Tammy Owens said the federal agency needed another way to learn about potential effects to the waterway.
“What we’re proposing is to allow an alternative means of achieving that analysis through the capacity study...by allowing the public to comment on their experience along the North Platte River,” she said.
Owens said public input can help the agency adapt its management. Brady Owens, with the BLM High Plains district office, said increasing permits doesn’t limit commercial activity and that’s there's been a 62 percent increase in guiding trips since 2012. Public comment is open until April 13. He added the agency will move forward with the proposed plan if the response is positive or not pursue if it there’s opposition. He said that could be due to concerns over excessive commercial use.