Sublette County WSA Comment: General
| Silver Creek Ranch is located immediately South of the Wilderness now up for discussion. I have been ranch manager for that ranch now for 29 years. In those almost 30 years I have watched as the no maintenance turn the beetle kill into an impassable tinderbox waiting on a lighting strike to turn the entire area, possibly the ranch, into ashes. I and my boss support no new roads however the ability to clear dead trees that pose an extreme fire hazard. Thank you, Donny Allen
April 13 2018
The best way to keep our public lands public for everyone is to keep it the “ land of many uses”. To close the land off to anyone group is taking that group of people rights away to use that land. But they are still taxed to manage it. The forest lands that are timbered ,grazed, recreate on and used to for our national security by utilizing minerals. The land is healthier for the wild life and for the ecosystem at large. I have seen where the forest fires have stopped when the fire came to a clear cut area that was full of young healthy trees. Every thing else was black. Which area was best managed I ask you? Elk thrive in the areas that have been grazed by cattle as shown by multiple studies. As well as the areas that have been timber harvested correctly. No New Wilderness
March 28, 2018
Dear Sublette County Wyoming Public Lands Initiative Advisory Committee
I am commenting on the proposed Lake Mountain, Shoal Creek, and Scab Creek Wilderness Study Areas. Even though I only moved to Sublette County in 2015, my roots reside firmly in and on the land. My great grandfather, Charles Holden (1877-1913), my grandfather Charles Bird (1888-1942), and my father Howard Bird (1907-1979), are all planted in the ground of Sublette County. My two families even have landmarks named for them in the La Barge area.
As for me, I was born in Rock Springs in 1943, only because that was the nearest hospital to La Barge, not by choice. I am a Marine Corps veteran, with a bachelors and masters degree in fisheries science, with a teaching certificate thrown in to boot. My career as a biologist took me to Wyoming (3 years), Oregon (7 years), Idaho (5 years), and Alaska (18 Years), with the other years spent doing some small scale ranching (Oregon), seismic drilling company owner (Wyoming), teaching (Alaska), and a miscellany of other things providing me with lots of time in the mountains. Needless to say, I have either lived, worked, or recreated on western public lands most of my life.
As a BLM employee, in Alaska and Idaho, I have participated in crafting planning language in Resource Management Plans dealing with managing our public lands on large and small scales. I even served on a BLM/FS resource advisory council for NE Oregon for 5 years, advising both the BLM and FS on management for their respective lands. Concurrently, while living in Harney County, Oregon, I was the wildlife resources member of the Blue Mountain Advisory Group, a coalition of local country residents designed to provide advisory input to the Malhuer National Forest on management issues. The members of the committee represented a spectrum of interests (logging, ranching, recreation, local government) that drove the industry of the county.
Having said all that, now, as a retired federal and state biologist who spends much of the snow-free time left to me recreating on public lands in Sublette Country. I suppose I am also somewhat of a purist, given that I only recreate where my truck and my two feet can carry me. I am not a fan of motorized transportation in wilderness settings.
It comes as no surprise then, that I am in full support of any efforts the Wyoming Public Lands Initiative Advisory Committee may undertake to preserve the three WSAs under consideration in Sublette County. That includes Shoal Creek, Lake Mountain, and Scab Creek.
My reasons for this support are very simple. I have seen, worked, and traveled over much of the American west, and have seen the slow, but inexorable erosion (no pun intended) of our wilderness lands and values. We have developed what we need to settle the west and to provide resources for our citizens. The remaining lands deemed appropriate for wilderness consideration should remain wilderness. Those who feel excluded from these lands due to this designation, need only don their hiking boots to see them, should they be fit enough.
Thanks for letting me comment.
March 26, 2018
I am writing to you because I know that you are considering how to recommend to the Sublette County Commissioners and US Congress for retention or removing Wilderness Study Area status for the Lake Mountain, Shoal Creek and Scab Creek WSAs.
My husband and I routinely recreate within Wilderness and other wildlands, including WSAs. We prefer to hike. We do not mountain bike in rough terrain, and we do not use ATVs or snowmobiles. We hike. We carry our lunches, our spike camps, our hunting rifles and our fishing poles. (Well, at our age, maybe not all at the same time anymore!) We can find more space, more peace and more fish and game if not everyone else is driving in there on an ATV. We prefer protecting wilderness characteristics where we can.
We are relatively new to living in Sublette County (2015), but we have visited here for many years prior. We camp and fish in the Cottonwood Creek Forks in the Wyoming Range. We hike up Horse Creek. We helped the Trust for Public Lands buy out the leases in the Wyoming Range that would otherwise have been developed. We hike into the Winds. We hope to hike into the Lake Mountain, Shoal Creek and Scab Creek WSAs in the future. We hope to not find new roads, nor new oil and gas development. There are many suitable areas for oil and gas development in Sublette County, but they do not require these WSAs for survival. Many species do. Happy hikers rely on Wilderness too.
Thanks for considering my comment.
March 26, 2018
Dear Members of the Sublette County Advisory Committee:
Thank you for allowing me an opportunity to comment regarding the three Wilderness Study Areas here in Sublette County.
I am a long-time resident of Sublette County and have had many years of teaching outdoor education to our Sublette County youth and also to work for several Sublette County Outfitters. These rewarding experiences have given me a great love and respect for our wild lands.
Rather than submit comments about the future designations of the three Wilderness Study Areas, I would respectfully ask you to consider the following questions as you ponder the outcomes of your possible designations.
March 26, 2018
Letter from Trout Unlimited
March 26, 2018
March 26, 2018
We’re losing to many areas to motorized vehicles. Please keep these areas wild forever.
March 25, 2018
I am a Wyoming Native and have recreated all over this area from Jackson to Pinedale for 40 years there is no good reason to put this area in wilderness except to keep hunters, rancher, loggers, ATV enthusiasts off the forest, there is plenty of wilderness that is already protected and mismanaged. This is just more environmental over reach to help with their agenda 21 cause. KEEP THIS AREA NON WILDERNESS sincerely Timothy Raver
March 25, 2018
Please preserve the Multiple Use for this area of Wyoming. Stop locking up our public land from the public. We need to maintain Cattle Grazing, Recreational Activities and Mineral Exploration. We have way too much Wilderness area already. Thank you, Jim and Laurie Genzer Jackson, Wyoming
March 24, 2018
As you approach a time to make a decision on the three Wilderness Study Areas in Sublette County, I want you to know that I prefer they all become permanent wilderness areas. If you were to survey the 330 million Americans who own our federal lands, I am quite certain they would also want them to become permanent wilderness areas. This decision should go beyond the wants/needs of the people of Sublette County. Thank you for your consideration.
March 21, 2018
Current trespassing in Wilderness Study Areas is illegal. A great deal of thought went into their WSA designation. Please convert WSAs to Wilderness. If they are lost to mechanized access, they are lost forever. Wildlife and humans are counting on you. Thank you,
March 16, 2018
Wilderness Study Areas have been in place for more than thirty years. As such, it is clear that these lands have been thoughtfully and deliberately managed with both scientific and public input, and without harm to the resource, while allowing for their value to be shared by the greatest number of users, human and wildlife. If we define best use as greatest benefit to most, then it is time to close the book on these studies and recognize that multiple use IS the middle ground, the highest use, for these areas, and that to attempt to segregate and manage them beyond that level, will benefit few. I urge the Sublette County WPLI Advisory Committee to recommend release of these WSA lands to multiple use. Thank you for the opportunity to comment.
March 16, 2018
Please listen, it is very important to preserve the wild nature of Wyoming’s wilderness study areas as Wilderness. Only a Wilderness designation will permanently protect these areas from unrestrained and rapidly growing mechanized/ motorized forms of recreation that remove the security of critical habitat for bighorn sheep, grizzly bears, wolverines, moose and other sensitive species. We have so few wild places left we must do everything we can to preserve necessary habitat.
March 16, 2018
We don’t need any more roads, we do need more wilderness areas to protect our wildlife. Wilderness and wildlife are needed for citizens of Wyoming as well as visitors. Once roads are built, the wildlife will leave or be in danger, and we won’t get back the beautiful Wyoming we had.
Claudia E. GambIe
March 15, 2018
It is very important to preserve the wild nature of Wyoming’s wilderness study areas as Wilderness. Only a Wilderness designation will permanently protect these areas from unrestrained and rapidly growing mechanized/ motorized forms of recreation that remove the security of critical habitat for bighorn sheep, grizzly bears, wolverines, moose and other sensitive species.
March 14, 2018
Please protect Sublette wilderness areas & Backcountry from additional roads and from mechanical/motored vehicles for recreational purposes. Please keep or wild Wild. Thank You
March 14, 2018
It is very important to preserve the wild nature of Wyoming’s wilderness study areas as Wilderness. Only a Wilderness designation will permanently protect these areas from unrestrained and rapidly growing mechanized/ motorized forms of recreation that remove the security of critical habitat for bighorn sheep, grizzly bears, wolverines, moose and other sensitive species. More roads equals fewer grizzly bears. We will lose our grizzlies where roads and mechanized/motorized forms of recreation are permitted. The state of Wyoming now bears responsibility for managing its grizzly bear population. It must approach managing grizzly bear habitat carefully and consider what the impact will be on grizzlies. Given the importance of roadless areas to grizzly bear populations, all existing roadless areas should be protected and those areas should remain free from motorized and mechanized Core grizzly bear habitat and must remain protected.
March 14, 2018
There are few things more important than preserving the wildness of our valuable wilderness. As a hunter, hiker, and outdoor enthusiast I have had the pleasure of enjoying these wild places. I to have motorized vehicles, but have no need for additional spaces to explore. Keep our wilderness wild by permanently protecting our Wilderness. Preserve habitat for our precious wildlife.
March 14, 2018
Green River Valley Cattleman’s Association WSA Resolution Letter
March 3, 2018
Letter from Conservation and Sportsmen NGOs
February 21, 2018
Today, I sent the following email to the Sublette County Commissioners Dear Commissioner, I read in today’s Pinedale Roundup that the WPLI committee is having difficulty reaching consensus regarding the future of Wilderness Study Areas in Sublette County. I would like to provide the following comments. While the WPLI process is much superior to the less contemplative approach recently proposed by Representative Liz Cheney, the limitations of WPLI are exemplified by the article in the Pinedale Roundup. I am specifically referring to the demands of the County Commission that no new wilderness areas be created in the county. It is inappropriate to initiate a process that was supposedly wide open to discussion when one of the potential outcomes of that discussion had apparently been rejected by the Commission before the process began. If the process is to retain any credibility, the possibility of recommending that one or all WSAs become permanent wilderness areas must be allowed. In addition, I would like to remind you that the Wilderness Study Areas in Sublette County are owned by 330 million Americans. As such, your decisions should transcend the opinions and desires of the relatively few people living in Sublette County. I encourage you to take a more global view as you move forward. Thank you for considering my opinion.
Wyoming Sportsmen for Federal Lands Cheyenne, Wyoming
February 16, 2018
|We use our public lands extensively for camping, hunting, snowmobiling and atving. We are very conscious of the environment and want to see it preserved for future generations to enjoy just as we do. We don’t feel that any radical changes are necessary to preserve this freedom.
July 18, 2017
|Having been a wilderness ranger during my college days, I have a great affinity for wilderness. However enough is enough. I find the current trend to close roads and create more wilderness “study” areas is a back door to management by exclusion. In general these areas are promoted and campaigned by groups and individuals who do not live in the areas they are wanting closed off. They are usually well funded and probably have good intentions, without regard to the local impact on economies and lifestyles. My family has been in Wyoming since the 1870’s and I feel that we have done a pretty fair job of taking care of the land and the state in general without outside decision makers. Of course we all know that the locals don’t know anything!!!!
Robert K. “Ken” Lake
July 17, 2017
|I would like to voice my opinions on the current WSAs residing in Sublette County, and for that matter the remainder of the state as well. These areas have been managed as a de-facto wilderness area since the Federal Land Policy & Management Act of 1976. This has essentially, among other tools, been used to designate various tracts of land as de-facto wilderness areas due to political difficulties of passing wilderness legislation in congress. In my opinion, both this act as well as the Wilderness Act of 1964 have been abused for the better part of the past 25 years. Locking the public out of immense tracts of public land is not preservation, its a total lack of commitment to preservation in my opinion. This non-management strategy is not an effective strategy for preservation, conservation or access. Combined with the fact that the drivers behind most wilderness proposals floated through congress during my lifetime have all been driven largely by the ultra-wealthy who own land in proximity to the proposed wilderness or wilderness study areas gives me cause to wonder …. Who and what is this land really being “conserved” for? Just because a certain tract of land is not designated as wilderness area does not mean it will automatically be drilled, mined, ruined by people on OHVs, or any such thing. The means in which that particular public land can be utilized commercially or recreationally is highly regulated by other means. I believe the wilderness advocacy groups grossly mislead the public about that caveat of public lands management. I support all forms of recreation on public land, motorized and non-motorized, and truly appreciate and respect peoples’ desire for solitude. We all want the same thing in that respect, but perhaps by different means of achieving it. With that said, I do not support any of the current WSAs being officially designated as Wilderness and in my opinion they should be returned to their pre-WSA status and managed under existing BLM and USFS rules and regulations. Thank you for accepting my comments.
June 21, 2017
|I have long recreated in this area by many different means. I drive on the legally allowed roads and snowmachine in the non-wilderness areas , and hike all over it and have done so since the 70’s . In the Gros Ventre Range we already have a large portion of it locked up in wilderness designation that makes accessing it difficult if you are not an experienced horseman or top level backpacker. We have sacrificed much of our county to mineral and petroleum products development, and I understand the need to save save parts of it from that type of development , but there are other ways to do so . To designate this area a wilderness will close it down to a large amount of public recreation access . I spend about 30 days a year in that area recreating as do many other residents of Sublette Co. Not all of our Forest visitors have horses or are expert backpackers.
February 20, 2017
|I am completely opposed to any other forest or blm ground being considered wilderness and un-accessible by motor vehicles. Access has been limited enough already through unvoiced channels and limiting it further doesn’t’ restrict the number of users it only concentrates people trying to access the land into more confined spaces causing more problems than it solves.
February 6, 2017
|Generations of my family have used this area for all types of recreation . Loosing this connection to tradition would be travesty.
February 4, 2017
|We are avid snowmobilers and have ridden in that area many times, we also consider ourselves stewards of the land and take great care of the areas in which we ride. We strongly oppose its inception into wilderness.
Ellie and Adam Johnson
February 3, 2017
|I am opposed to wilderness inception. I enjoy snowmobiling in the area, sight seeing and hunting. we have plenty of wilderness to enjoy. If you keep closing areas down, that creates more impact on the places we can use, so then you want to close them because now there is to much use!!!
February 3, 2017
1,250 comments submitted by Advocates for Multi-Use of Public Lands (AMPL). Click here to view the file on another website.
Scab Creek WSA
I am only familiar with the Scab Creek WSA, through which I have ridden for over 30 years. I have participated in trails improvement projects through the Back Country Horsemen in that WSA, helping to rebuild the “struggle up” switchbacks, and working on the corral and trails in the campground. As a former outfitter for 24 years in the Winds, I am certainly appreciative of the wilderness concept and the unique opportunity that it affords horse and foot travelers. I agree with the protections that the wilderness act has given to those lands, and have enjoyed that benefit immensely. However, with the current budget restraints on the USFS, there is a tremendous backlog of trail maintenance in the wilderness area above the Scab Creek WSA. I served as a mounted wilderness ranger for the USFS for two seasons about 10 years ago, and I can vouch the government has neither the resources or manpower to maintain the existing trail system, let alone add more to that burden. While the maintenance in this WSA would fall on BLM to clear and rebuild the trails, they are no more capable to handle non-motorized trail maintenance than the USFS. Additionally, this is fringe land that at one time had roads into the lower parts of it for logging. There is a tremendous resource of dead timber that could be utilized if this was opened up to multiple use, thereby hopefully averting yet another disastrous wildfire. I believe that it will not in any way hamper the wilderness experience for those passing through to the upper mountain wilderness area. Therefore, I strongly urge WPLI to make the recommendation for “return to multiple use”, which was the original intent of the public lands when they were conceived of in the beginning.
March 16, 2018
This comment is submitted on behalf of Mountain Springs Ranch, LLC. (MSR). Bounded on three sides by the Scab Creek WSA, MSR was purchased by DeWitt A. Morris in 2008. The acreage was then considered prime development property and thus through the Green River Valley Land Trust a conservation easement was promptly established to prevent subdivision of the property. Conditions for surface use were purposely designed to complement those of the Scab Creek WSA. Amongst others, these conditions included No Surface Occupancy and vehicular use of only existing roads and trails. The ranch is occupied 12 months of the year and primary uses include Camp GROW http://www.greenriverfoundation.com in the spring and summer and hunting and snow machining in the fall and winter. The Scab Creek WSA, adjacent to Mountain Springs Ranch qualifies for and should be designated and managed as Wilderness in accordance with the Wilderness Act of 1964 which states: “A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” The exception to this designation should include three historically existing two track roads. These roads are known to have been in use since the early 1900’s for the purposes of logging, livestock management, hunting, camping and snow-machining. It is our recommendation that these trails be exempted through the process known as “Cherry Stemming” including a 20 foot from center line easement. This should allow ample room for vehicles to reverse direction when necessary. In the event these roads cannot be exempted, then MSR strongly objects to the wilderness designation for the Scab Creek WSA in its entirety. Also, there is an existing pack trail commencing on MSR adjacent to Spring Creek, ascending to the southern end of Taylor Park (headwaters of Spring Creek), traversing the park in its entirety and then descending back into the Hall Basin on federal land. Maintenance of this trail should be allowed according to wilderness stipulations. In addition to the pack trail, segments of the historically existing “Lowline Trail” traverse back and forth across private and federal land commencing at the southern end of Soda Lake and exiting the eastern end of MSR along Spring Creek where it returns to federal land and joins the Scab Creek Trail continuing into the Jim Bridger Wilderness. We believe that this too could be maintained in keeping with the wilderness designation. Thank you for this opportunity to comment.
August 24, 2017
Shoal Creek WSA
|Dear members of the committee, I would like to go on the record by commenting on the proposed wilderness designation for this acreage. My family has owned a ranch in the Jack Creek drainage since the late 1940s. We grazed in this area for many years, and my parents ran an outfitting business in the 1950s and 1960s. The family (my mother Jo Mack, my brother Vic Mack Jr, myself, and my significant other Scott Davis) are against this land becoming wilderness. This county has vast tracts of land already designated wilderness. Shoal Creek is better off as a multiple use acreage. The ranchers pay fees to graze. The hunters pay the Game & Fish to hunt. The ORV users likewise pay fees. Elders can get into Jeeps and side-by-sides and go up Riling Draw and get closer to the heart of the mountains.Thank you.
Joni M. Mack Raven’s Crowne Jewels
March 10, 2018
Be the guardians of Shoal Creek that you were meant to be!! Hands off, private interests and extractive industries. Keep the people of Wyoming in charge.
March 17, 2018
I am an avid snowmachine rider that lives in Sublette County, Wyoming. The Shoal Creek area has been a frequent riding area for myself and a group of riders from both the Pinedale area as well as riders from the Jackson area. This riding area has safe terrain that is fun and challenging for riders as well as having good access in the winter months. The area gets consistent, deep snowfall throughout the winter with has the benefit of good snowmachining as well as providing good cover for the vegetation and resources below the snow. I have been riding in this area for many years and many of the other riders I ride with have ridden there for multiple decades.
November 8, 2017
|Please leave the proposed area in Shoal Creek which is currently outside wilderness consideration as is. Older people, like myself will have no access if not allowed to continue use of vehicle/motorized access to the area. Please, leave it alone. Thank you!
August 15, 2017
|I support allowing snowmobile use in the winter to continue in this area. I do no support making this a wilderness area. There are ATV/UTV trails that skirt this area and I support keeping these trails open for ATV/UTV use. I would support considering creating trail loops for ATV/UTV use to discourage any off trail use. I would like to have the local snowmobile/ATV/UTV/motorcycle club work with the forest service in this to establish the trails loops mentioned above to encourage public involvement. This area provides a great recreational opportunity for individuals that are unable back pack or ride horses to access a beautiful part of Wyoming. Please consider NOT making the Shoal Creek Wilderness Study area a wilderness area. Thank you.
August 2, 2017
|I have ridden every ATV/UTV trail that skirts the Shoal Creek Wilderness Study Area and have also been horse back in much of this study area. I do not support making this area into wilderness. I would like to see ATV/UTV trail loops created to decrease off trail use. I support snowmobile use of this area in the winter. I think this area allows individuals such as myself that no longer are physically able to back pack or ride horses to access the national forest. Thank you.
August 2, 2017
|Good morning, I attended the meeting in Bondurant on the evening of July 12, 2017. Thank you for the time you all put in on this project, I know it can be a thankless job. After listening to all of the comments, and commenting myself, it was very apparent that the people who live in the area and use the Shoal Creek overwhelmingly are in favor of keeping the area as it has been, full multiple use. By full multiple use I mean all motorized and non motorized uses should be allowed. I can see where a section set aside for cross county skiers might be a possibility, but only one person spoke in favor of cross country skiing so I am not sure space needs to be set aside for one person. It is obvious all other users have been able to get along with full multiple use, and as noted buy the committee, the area was flown over and toured on the ground and is beautiful, amazing country. The area seems to be flourishing with full multiple use so it obviously should stay that way. Thank you.
July 14, 2017
|I spend most of my winter in the Shoal Creek WSA and would strongly advise against making it a wilderness area. I take my kid with me snowmaching and it has always been one of my favorite areas to frequent with friends and family. It has been a tradition for many years. We are very responsible with the environment and make sure to leave it better than when arrived. So please do not take away my ability to enjoy this area.
February 3, 2017
|I am a lifelong resident of Sublette County, Wyoming and had the privilege of growing up in Bondurant. I have been notified that the Shoal Creek WSA is being seriously considered for Wilderness inception. I do agree that this specific area is precious but I strongly oppose this consideration. The Shoal Creek drainage, Jack Creek Drainage, North Fork of Fisherman Creek (to Fisherman Lake), and the Deer Ridge Area are some of my favorite places to ride snow machines during the winter months. I personally know many riders who frequent these areas as well. I am also aware that many folks from Teton County frequent the Shoal Creek and Deer Ridge Area often (as I have witnessed over the course of many years riding in the area). I am an advocate of wilderness and want to protect our natural resources for the enjoyment of future generations but I strongly believe this specific area should be retained as a multi-use area, NOT WILDERNESS! Please keep me posted as decisions are being made regarding this subject. Sincerely,
Mike Jackson February 3, 2017
|I oppose the Shoal Creek WSA. I have been snowmobiling in that area with my family and the family of Tom and Kathy Jackson all of my life. I was born and raised in Daniel, WY with many good family friends calling the Bondurant valley home. Due to this I have spent countless days recreating in the surrounding areas of Bondurant, such areas as are being considered for the Shoal Creek WSA. Do not limit the wonderful multi-use this PUBLIC LAND provides. I would like my children, as well as their children to be able to grow up enjoying one of Western Wyoming’s truly special mountain areas the same way I have all of my life.
February 3, 2017
Lake Mountain WSA
|Dear Members of the Sublette County Advisory Committee:
Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments regarding the Lake Mountain Wilderness Study Area. As members of the Upper Green River Chapter of Trout Unlimited (UGR-TU) who live, work, raise families, worship, fish and recreate in Sublette County, the proper utilization of public lands is a serious matter to our Chapter.
The Upper Green River Chapter of Trout Unlimited has taken a proactive stance to protect habitats and wildlife. As one example, we worked with the Town of Pinedale to complete two (2) fish passage projects on Pine Creek, removing stream blockages, restoring fish habitat and recreating fish migration patterns. As a result, Pine Creek has a higher fish population than any other coldwater stream in Sublette.
UGR-TU Chapter members and volunteers have also conducted multiple fish rescue projects on the: (1) Little Colorado Irrigation Ditch, 7,407 fish, (2) Stiba Ditch, 181 fish and (3) Highland Ditch, 177 fish. Rescued fish species included Rainbow, Brook, Brown and Cutthroat Trout, Kokanee, Speckled Dace, Red Sided Shiner, Utah Chub and Mottled Sculpin. The Chapter partnered with Wyoming Trout Unlimited and the Little Colorado Irrigation Ditch Company to install a fish screen at the head of the Little Colorado Irrigation Ditch. The Chapter then planted native trees, grasses and other vegetation to restore the disturbed riparian areas.
An all-volunteer group, we have raised over a quarter of a million dollars for fish habitat projects through grants from the Wyoming Wildlife Natural Resource Trust Fund, National Trout Unlimited Embrace-A-Stream program, Sublette County Conservation District and Town of Pinedale. We have also conducted drift boat and silent auctions, obtained donated supplies,and recruited in-kind services and volunteer work. Confidence in the UGR-TU Chapter resulted in the donation of three Wyoming Game Tags from Game & Fish Commissioners, which were sold to fund UGR-TU habitat improvement and restoration projects.
We have partnered with the Wyoming Game & Fish on stream bank stabilization and habitat restoration projects on the New Fork River and have participated in Kids Fishing Day, providing operational support and assistance. The UGR-TU Chapter has sponsored six (6) Sublette residents to attend Casting for Recovery, a fly fishing program for women with breast cancer, gladly covering the one thousand dollar fee for each participant. UGR-TU initiated the Ladies Beginning Fly Fishing training to encourage women to fish public rivers and streams.
This litany, covering only a portion of the UGR-TU chapter accomplishments, is to illustrate how important public lands are to our members. Additionally, several UGR-TU chapter members are professional outdoor/fishing guides, fishing resort owners and retail establishments focusing on outdoor activities, all of whom utilize public lands for their living.
UGR-TU CONCERNS RE: LAKE MOUNTAIN WILDERNESS STUDY AREA
Lake Mountain Wilderness is irreplaceable:
The Lake Mountain Wilderness Study Area sits astride some of Sublette’s prime habitat for Colorado River Cutthroat Trout. It’s a fish Shangri-la hidden in the Wyoming Range, one of the few, intact habitats for this salmonid of concern. Unlike other waters in Wyoming, the Lake Mountain Wilderness is not infested with non-native fish which threaten and out-compete indigenous fish species. It is always easier – – and less expensive – – to maintain an existing pristine state rather than attempt restoration. Development in this area is as short-sighted as shutting the barn door after your cows escape. The following points explain in more detail why we oppose allowing development or increased motorized use in the Lake Mountain WSA.
Existing Wyoming areas under lease are not being utilized beneficially:
It’s not that there is a dearth of areas to drill and, as a result, we do not believe that unspoiled wilderness must be sacrificed for natural resource extraction. According to Bureau of Land Management (BLM) data, only forty-seven percent (47%) of leased Wyoming acres are even under production. Please refer to the BLM website: https://www.blm.gov/programs/energy-and-minerals/oil-and-gas/oil-and-gas-statistics. Hoarding areas with approved leases, while seeking new production opportunities, is not a beneficial reason to open wilderness for quaestuarian development.
Surface disturbance run-off:
Just north of Sand Draw on the west side of Highway 191 are horse or oxen drawn wagon tracks, laid down in the 1800’s, their parallel scars visible today. It’s a recognized fact that Sublette’s arid climate combined with scarcity of topsoil are unforgiving. Soils disturbed by surface occupancy, road construction and other land uses are carried off site and gravity fed to areas of lower elevation, usually accumulating in a stream bed. Fisheries research has documented that erosion and increased sediment reduces intra-gravel permeability, and by extension hyporheic zones, as well as dissolved oxygen levels. These create deleterious impacts on trout egg survival and alevins, newly spawned trout still carrying their egg yolk. Streambank erosion and increased sedimentation, whether by industrial equipment, off road vehicular traffic or bovid activity, threatens trout habitat and species viability.
Invasive plant species risks:
Development within the Lake Mountain Wilderness and surrounding areas will damage vegetation and introduce invasive species. Sublette is fighting a losing battle with Cheatgrass and on alert for other non-native plants such as Meadow Knapweed, Rush Skeletonweed, Austrian Fieldcress, and Scentless Chamomile. These and similar introduced non-native plants cause ecological changes in plant communities, reduce grazing efficacy and, in the case of aquatic invaders can deplete oxygen levels in streams, affect stream temperatures, lower water tables and dry up water resources.
Though local culture and custom often views public land as the private domain of particular groups, UGR-TU reminds the committee members that these areas belong to ALL the residents of Wyoming. They also belong to millions of Americans who would be robbed of their shared heritage if the committee fails in its duty of stewardship.
It is our understanding that the purpose of the March 27, 2018 WPLI Sublette Advisory Committee meeting is to discuss solely the Lake Mountain WSA. If discussion regarding other Sublette WSAs takes place at the meeting, the Upper Green River Chapter of Trout Unlimited reserves the right to provide comments and recommendations following the discussion.
In closing, the UGR-TU Chapter supports the recommendations proposed by Trout Unlimited to protect the Lake Mountain WSA. We urge the committee to create long lasting safeguards to ensure that current and future outdoor enthusiasts can fish, hike, ride horses and forever enjoy these matchless lands and their pristine beauty.
March 26, 2018