public lands

Bob Wick / Bureau of Land Management

Public lands advocates across the Mountain West are calling Tuesday's midterm election a big win for conservation. Several races in the region favored candidates with strong public lands platforms.

Erik Molvar

In 2014, the Wyoming Public Lands Initiative assembled committees in eight counties with wilderness study areas, in hopes of getting consensus on how to manage those lands going forward, but three counties have now opted out. Lincoln, Bighorn and Sweetwater Counties are joining a bill recently introduced in Congress by U.S. Representative Liz Cheney that would lift protections on wilderness study areas without getting buy-in from local stakeholders.

Pilot Hill Land Purchase

Community organizers are progressing on an effort to raise money to buy a mountainside east of Laramie known as Pilot Hill. The hope is to turn it into a state park that connects the city of Laramie to trails in the Laramie Range, and will also protect the city’s aquifer from future development.

The Modern West 39: The Fight For Land Conservation

Oct 16, 2018
Public Lands in Wyoming
Bob Wick, BLM / Bureau of Land Management

Are public lands meant to be used or protected?

Bob Wick / wyomingoutdoorcouncil.org

A recent study shows that BLM-managed lands produced $3 billion in revenue. The study called “Quantifying the Economic Contributions of Wildlife-Related Recreation on BLM Lands,” took into account twelve western states including Wyoming in 2016. Outdoor activities provide 27-hundred jobs that pay workers $88 million a year and retail sales produce even more: $331 million a year. 

An important but little-known public lands fund expired this weekend. 

In numerous counties around Wyoming, collaborative committees are meeting to try to decide what to recommend the U.S. Congress do with dozens of wilderness study areas that have been stuck in limbo for over 40 years. These areas lack the permanent protections of wilderness but are also closed to most kinds of recreation or development.

Public lands are a big deal in the mountain west. Conservationists across our region are celebrating these lands all this month.

 


A leaked memo this week from the Interior Department shows Secretary Ryan Zinke wants to give states more clout over wildlife management on public lands, unless it conflicts with federal law.

 


The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) may be the most successful, and little-known, conservation program. That obscurity could contribute to it's downfall. 

public domain

If there's a fee for either a camping site or a day use area on Forest Service land, there's probably some kind of toilet there. But solving the problem of human waste in vaulted or backcountry toilets is not as easy as flushing it out of the system.

Separate bills are active in Congress to alternately strengthen or weaken the law used to create national monuments.

U.S. Senate committees will hold hearings this week on the Trump administration's plan to reorganize the government. It includes a department that manages millions of acres of public lands in our region.

Wyoming Wildlife Federation


It will soon be impossible to get oil and gas leases on 24,000 acres of the Wyoming Range. Conservation non-profit the Trust for Public Land bought out existing leases within the Wyoming Range to maintain the area for wildlife and recreation. It’s the second time the groups have done this in the western part of the state – bringing the total number of retired acres by the trust to 80,000. Chris Deming, a project manager with the Trust for Public Land, who helped lead the way for both acquisitions.

This week President Trump pardoned two Oregon ranchers serving five-year prison terms for arson on federal lands. The two men had become a cause celebre in the ongoing fight between ranchers and the federal government over water and grazing rights.

 


Pilot Hill Project

Community organizers in Laramie have been working to raise over $10 million to buy 5,500 acres of privately-owned land, turning the mountainside property east of town known as Pilot Hill into a park. 

Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument is nothing fancy when you first drive in. No towering cliffs or dramatic canyons. It’s a calm, sunny valley – 6,000 acres all totaled -- of meadow and ponderosa pine forest.

DHM Design

The Trust for Public Land has released new plans for the Astoria Hot Springs Park. The Jackson Hole nonprofit involved over 2,500 locals in the design process.

The Great Salt Lake is vast — around 1,700 square miles of state and federal public lands.

Maggie Mullen

Over the next few weeks, we're going to take you on a tour of some of our favorite public lands.  

Most people visit Curt Gowdy State Park in Southeastern Wyoming for the world-class mountain biking, reservoirs filled with rainbow trout, and hikes through steep granite formations.

But entomologist Christy Bell comes for the bees.

6:30 a.m. is one of the best times to watch wildlife in Yellowstone National Park’s Lamar Valley.

Everything smells like sage. It’s really cold and there are a bunch of retirees staring through hire-powered telescopes at a lush, verdant hill.

Jon Sullivan, PD Photo

An anonymous donor plans to give a historic acre of land surrounded by Grand Teton National Park to the park.

Public lands facilities around the nation are cutting budgets and staff. But in the Mountain West region, cutbacks at Montana's National Bison Refuge are prompting accusations of a political vendetta by regional U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service managers. 

A lot of people may not have heard of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, or that it’s in jeopardy.

When you hear about companies like REI or Patagonia, you might think about tents, rain jackets or hikers in puffy coats on a mountaintop. But how about politics? These outdoorsy companies are part of a new wave of business advocates fighting for public lands.


The Bureau of Land Management has presented Congress with a controversial new plan to manage wild horses.

Environmental groups want to stop sheep grazing on public lands in the region. The issue is playing out in the courts in Idaho and Montana.  

U.S. Bureau of Land Management


Since 2010, whenever a parcel of land was nominated to be leased by an oil and gas company, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) went through a significant review period. There were site visits, comments when draft environmental assessments were released, and an additional 30 days of public comment once the sale was live. But Tim Spisak, acting assistant director of energy, minerals, and realty management for the BLM, said all that review wasn’t efficient for energy production.

The Patagonia website recently took another swipe at the Trump administration over its decision to shrink national monuments in Utah. This political activism may be the new norm for the outdoor recreation industry.

Wyoming County Commissioners Association

For 40 years, dozens of wilderness study areas, or WSAs, have been stuck in limbo, waiting for Congress to decide whether they should be given official wilderness status or released for other uses. So, three years ago, the Wyoming County Commissioners Association formed the Wyoming Public Lands Initiative, collaborating with local stakeholders to answer that question.

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