The Wyoming Wilderness Association is excited to launch our Wild Wyo blog! We look forward to sharing tidbits about our work to protect Wyoming's public wild lands, as well as valuable news from our conservation partners.
There is a lot happening right now in the realm of wild lands conservation in Wyoming. In addition to our ongoing work in our campaign areas -- the Shoshone, Bighorn, and Bridger-Teton National forests and BLM Wild Lands -- WWA is also engaged in two collaborative processes that will both result in management recommendations to state and national officials.
The Wyoming Public Lands Initiative, launched in December 2015, is a county-led effort to examine Wyoming's 45 Wilderness Study Areas and recommend management designations for these wild lands. Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) comprise 700,000 acres of federal lands that retain their primeval character and are managed to preserve their natural condition. Designations could range from release for development to addition to the National Wilderness Preservation System.
The ultimate goal of the WPLI is to forward a major lands package to U.S. Congress that delineates the status of WSAs, which have been managed as de facto wilderness for more than 30 years. It is WWA's goal to see no net loss of wild lands.
The Bighorn National Forest Roadless Collaborative was formed in summer 2016 in response to the Governors' Task Force on Forests, which recommends assessing roadless areas in each forest. The collaborative has been tasked with reconciling a discrepancy between the Bighorn National Forest's 2005 Forest Plan and the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule, which delineates 126,000 acres of the forest as Roadless that are not designated Roadless in the 2005 Forest Plan.
The discrepancy creates gray areas in regards to timber harvest and building new roads, endangering the forest's remaining wild places. Furthermore, the 2005 Forest Plan designates half its "suitable timber" inside of Inventoried Roadless Areas.
WWA is actively participating in both collaboratives to advocate for protection of Wyoming's public wild lands. Stay tuned for updates!
Bighorn National Forest. Photo courtesy Bruce Gordon, EcoFlight.