Share Your Input

Submit comments on the Carbon WPLI draft recommendation to carbonwpli@carbonwy.com. Comment period ends September 9, 2018.

 

Carbon County Public Comment To Date

Response to Final Recommendations

Nick Haderlie Public Comment 10.15.18


Wednesday, August 22nd, I attended a public meeting of the CCWPLI committee expecting to hear the final results of a process that has taken a volunteer group of courageous people more that a year and a half. They presented their recommendations for several Wilderness Study Areas here in Carbon County. They have logged countless hours trying to get it just right.

This committee decided nothing!!  What they did was work tirelessly, taking into account all the information they had available, submitted in person, by web sites or phone calls by everyone and anyone who had an interest, concern or comment on the WSA. They worked long and hard to make recommendations based on a collaborative effort. They did not unilaterally make any decisions.

As part of this collaborative effort, they studied the areas by land, on foot and in the air. They listened to every comment and mulled it over in committee trying to find a designation that fit the needs of the land, the people and the future. They publicized the meetings, begging for people to take part in the process. Folks were encouraged to work with the committee for the past year and a half to make this a people-centered decision. They felt that the public had been heard and they had accomplished the task they had worked so hard to complete. Then, at the last minute when the committee and the public, whom diligently participated in the process, found common ground and felt the best possible designation had been reached,  they were sucker punched by a corporate business who’s only real concern for the WSA was retaining grazing rights.

A comment was made concerning these recommendation going to the County Commissioners then on to the Governor and finally to Congress, and somewhere in that process someone tweaking the recommendations. I agree. Everything decided could be tweaked, but I feel it is less likely to happen if this committee’s hard work and dedication is supported. Unless someone is unhappy and makes waves there really is no reason for anyone to tweak these recommendations to satisfy a disgruntled entity that chose not to participate in the collaborative process for the past year and a half. Please understand that I am not attacking the Silver Spur employees personally. I know that you are only doing your job for a multi billion dollar, out of state corporation that owns more than two million acres of land. But, your comments about having no concern for any other WSA’s made your intentions obvious. This land being discussed is approximately 1/500 of the total property owned by this corporation!

Apparently, I have misunderstood the WSA guidelines regarding motorized travel within these areas. I always thought no motorized vehicles were allowed access, and surprised to learn that the leasee was allowed certain exceptions to this rule. What a great deal for those who have those grazing rights-relatively inexpensive cattle grazing and access by motorized vehicle to provide nutritional supplements to the cattle.   It seems like a win/win situation. I have written this letter in support of the WPLI Committee and their recommendations for the four Carbon County WSA’s, in particular the Encampment River WSA.

Respectfully,

Janice L. White

Sept. 6, 2018


In reference to the Encampment River WSA, the BLM currently allows mountain biking to the Encampment River Wilderness. This trail is one of my favorite and one that I will profile in my upcoming book “Wyoming Singletrack, A Mountain Bike Trail Guide,” which is set for release in 2019. I ask the Carbon County committee to recommend mountain biking continue to be allowed on this section while preserving the physical character of the area and the solitude and naturalness that makes this area suitable for wilderness designation.

Jerimiah Rieman

August 16, 2018


I would like to voice support for the great collaborative work done by the CC WPLI Advisory Committee. My family and I fish the Encampment River on a regular basis, and we hike/camp/fish all over the county, especially in the wilderness areas and adjacent national forests. I’m really impressed by how groups and individuals have worked together on these proposals to conserve some really beautiful landscapes. Thank you. And I sure hope permanent conversation becomes a reality!

Alison Hagy

August 14, 2018


Thank you for your efforts to develop balanced solutions to public land management. On behalf of our more than one million members and supporters, The Wilderness Society supports your proposal for the Prospect Mountain and Encampment River wilderness areas. These special places deserve permanent protection as wilderness and we are pleased to support your proposal. We also support your proposals to establish the Encampment Wild and Scenic River and the North Platte/Black Cat Special Management Area. We support protecting the Bennet Mountain Wilderness Study Area and urge the committee to clarify the travel management provision of the proposal by stating that motorized and mechanized vehicles be permitted only on routes designated as of the date of enactment of the legislation. Further, both special management area proposals prohibit oil and gas development and prohibit surface occupancy. With oil and gas development prohibited, there is no need for a restriction on surface occupancy, and we request this provision be stricken. We note that the committee made no recommendation for the Ferris Mountain Wilderness Study Area. As the largest wilderness study area in the county, and one with outstanding wilderness values, Ferris Mountain is deserving of wilderness designation. We urge the committee to reconsider its recommendation to exclude Ferris Mountain from its proposal and to recommend this area for permanent wilderness protection. Again, thank you for your efforts and considering our comments.

Paul Spitler

August 14, 2018


As a resident of Albany County who frequently camps in Carbon County, I strongly support wilderness protection for the Encampment River Canyon and Prospect Mountain. These beautiful areas should be protected from mechanized intrusion and allowed to remain in a natural state. The state’s wilderness areas are one of the reasons I would never consider living anywhere else but Wyoming. Please grant permanent wilderness status to these two treasures.

Mary Buskirk

August 12, 2018


I support strong conservation regulations and multi access recreational availability for Wyoming’s public lands.

Jacey Myers

August 12, 2018

Fox_Letter


I support wilderness and strong conservation protections!

Paul Taylor

August 9, 2018


I support the committee’s recommendations in their entirety. The selection process appears to have been thoughtful, and the addition of lands to the national wilderness system can only be considered a positive development for recreation and outdoor tourism of several kinds. The designation of the Encampment River as Wild and Scenic will be a real draw for river recreationists. l thank the committee for your deliberations.

Steven Buskirk

August 9, 2018


We strongly encourage the Carbon County WPLI Advisory Committee to proceed with consideration of new wilderness area designation for the Encampment River canyon & Prospect Mtn. It is important that we hold aside wilderness areas for the use and enjoyment of future generations. Additionally, we support a wild and scenic designation for portions of the Encampment River, and designation of roadless areas on part of Prospect Mountain. We hunt and fish and camp in these areas and consider them precious.

Ruth and Steve Sommers

August 9, 2018


Since 1952 the population of the U.S. has more than doubled to 324,334,700. It is predicted to reach 450,385,000 by 2100. Do we need more Wilderness? Like Mark Twain said to Congress, “Buy land, they ain’t making no more.” That is what the Congress did in 1964 with the Wilderness Act. It set aside specific places that were untrammeled by man, places where present and future generations can enjoy the way it was.

Duane and Joy Keown

August 8, 2018


Thank you for setting in stone the protections for the Encampment River Canyon and Prospect Mountain. They are truly special and needed the protection. I especially love walking the canyon. Thank you for the generations to come.

Pat Cavicchioni

August 8, 2018


I support the Carbon County WPLI’s recommendations, including the creation of two new wilderness areas, the special management area for Bennett Mountain, the Wild and Scenic River designation for the Encampment River, and the roadless SMA near Prospect Mountain. I live in Laramie, and my dad grew up in Encampment, where my family still has property. Each summer and throughout the year, I visit Carbon County to fish in the North Platte at Six Mile Gap, hike and camp in the Encampment River Wilderness, scout mule deer near Huston Park, and otherwise recreate on the county’s incredible public lands. While I’m there, I stay in hotels like the Copperline Lodge; eat at the Bear Trap, Lollypop’s, and Bella’s; shop at the Saratoga Grocery Store; visit the Saratoga Public Library and the Encampment Park; visit the Grand Encampment Museum; and otherwise patronize the county’s businesses and enjoy its public amenities. Enhancing Carbon County’s outdoor recreation potential through the WPLI committee’s recommendation will increase economic activity in the county and strengthen the state’s outdoor heritage. I choose to live in Wyoming because of its incredible open spaces and abundant wildlife. Thank you for finding balanced, sensible ways to protect them for me and my children.

Nate Martin

August 8, 2018


I am writing to encourage you to continue to strongly support wilderness in Wyoming, especially the upcoming reviews of Encampment River Canyon as well as Prospect Mtn. I have done much hiking around Encampment River and in the Platte River wilderness and is something so healing and uplifting in its wildness. I want my little granddaughter to get to know and also experience and appreciate what only true wilderness can give. THANK YOU SINCERELY for your time and consideration into these projects.

Stephanie Reutner

August 8, 2018

 

Encampment River Canyon WSA

I’m writing this in support of granting full wilderness status to the Encampment River WSA. Aside from this land’s beauty, the WSA’s close proximity to Encampment makes it much easier to visit than many other wilderness areas, and is precisely why it should be given this designation. As American families’ spare time becomes more and more scarce, we must provide easily accessible wilderness to all. This universally praised area is the way it is because of the current protections afforded to it, these protections should be made full and permanent.

William J Ryan

June 24, 2018


As a resident of the Platte Valley, I have had many occasions to use the Encampment River Trail, most notably when I take visitors hiking through the lovely area. Everyone who has ever hiked there has thoroughly enjoyed the walk, the sights and taken home an excellent view of Wyoming. Therefore I would ask that you retain the area has it has been used. Please retain the wilderness designation.

Having the Encampment River Trail available for hiking and showing off a slice of Wyoming to visitors is possibly the most important aspect of the recreational opportunities afforded us through wilderness protection. However, we should consider the protection offered against energy and other commercial development as well. Apparently some folks would like to avoid wilderness protection in order to extend recreational opportunities to bicycling. As a cyclist, I would love to be able to ride the trail. Unfortunately, if this is permitted, we would also lose the protections against energy development. If commercial development is allowed in the area, it would no longer be a great place to cycle, and would lose all value as a tourist activity. Thanks for considering my input,

Stephanie Painter

June 18, 2018


I am writing to encourage you to give the Encampment River Canyon the ultimate permanent designation as a wilderness area. My family has lived in the Riverside area for 38 years and we have walked the Encampment Riverside Canyon Trail from Colorado to the Wyoming Odd Fellows Park. It is hard to find words to describe fully the beauty of the area. It was an experience we all remember with a sense of wonder and joy to this day. It has been a wilderness study area for years and now deserves permanent wilderness status. Retaining the biological integrity of its ecosystems is extremely important. Animal and plant communities are related to one another and “the footsteps we leave as we move through life” need to show that we have been thoughtful in preserving wilderness areas. It needs the protection that a permanent status can give it.

Patricia Laird

June 14, 2018


Letter from Encampment School Students

May 24, 2018


 S. Marich



This pertains to the Encampment River Canyon. My family enjoys and supports the management of this area exactly as it has been. Hiking, fishing, biking, horseback riding are all enjoyed in this small area and it should remain so. Wildlife can be viewed and enjoyed along the canyon. It is not so difficult of a hike that most ages cannot partake in it. There are old mines along the rim that it would be a shame if they were sold and built upon as so many in our area have been. The area has a growing number of Mountain Sheep that have been left to their own devices until recently when the Game and Fish transported a number of them to Dubois. Bottom line is “don’t try to fix that which is not broken!” Thank you for the opportunity to voice our opinions and actually feel like they are being heard.

Vicki Ward

May 14, 2018


The consideration of making the Encampment River WSA into a full Wilderness should be approved. The area remains a picturesque sampling of the natural beauty Carbon County, and indeed Wyoming, has to offer. So many other places have, for their own reasons, given up on preserving what our planet has so graciously gifted us. It behooves us, as forward-thinking, outdoor loving, hunting, fishing, and camping individuals to set aside those places most beautiful so that, when we tell stories to our grandchildren, that they might wander into those places and see for themselves exactly why our stories center there.

Rob Streeter

April 30, 2018

The Encampment River Canyon is one of the most beautiful rivers in all the Rocky Mountains. A pristine river with cold clear water filled with fantastic fish and wildlife. As a licensed fishing outfitter working out of Saratoga, I call the Encampment and North Platte my Home waters. The quality of fishing and recreational opportunities in this watershed is unmatched in the west. Having guided on rivers like the Colorado through the Grand Canyon, the Gunnison Gorge below the Black Canyon National Park, the Arkansas and dozens of other rivers throughout the West over a 40 year career.
I think so highly of this special river and watershed that I believe it deserves Federal Wild and Scenic status. I implore this governmental body to think seriously about protecting this small jewel for future generations!

Steven Heinitz

April 26, 2018


I own property outside of Encampment on the Encampment river as well as in Laramie. I came to the meeting in Encampment on April 10. After listening to the pros and cons and the options available to the public lands committee I feel the best option is to make these parcels wilderness. Thank you for your consideration!

Tom Wiersema

April 25, 2018


Dear Wyoming Public Lands Initiative Committee for Carbon County,

First let me express my gratitude to all of you for taking on the difficult task of trying to find consensus for future management of these important lands. Without your commitment to the process, these special places could be lost forever.
Today I wish to focus on the Encampment River Canyon Wilderness Study Area (WSA). I am fortunate to be lifelong resident of Encampment. My husband, R.G., and I own and manage the Spirit West River Lodge which sits on the banks of the Encampment River. Our guests come year after year to hike the Encampment River Trail, to fish the Encampment, and to just take in the majestic beauty of the Canyon. Our livelihood depends on lands encompassed by the WSA.
When not serving our guests, R.G. and I enjoy every moment we can finding solace in the open unspoiled spaces that surround us. The Encampment River Canyon is a legacy that our children and grandchildren have a right to inherit-intact, pristine, and unspoiled.
We all depend on mineral extraction and energy development, but please keep these away from our beloved Encampment. There are other places in Carbon County that these essential developments have a place, but not here. I fully endorse a Wilderness designation for the entire Encampment River Canyon WSA.
Thank you for carefully considering Wilderness as the best alternative for the place we hold so dear.

Sincerely,
Lynn Finney

February 22, 2018


Spirit West River Lodge Comment

February 22, 2018


Concerning the ENCAMPMENT RIVER CANYON STUDY AREA proposal, the officers and members of the Independent Order of Odd fellows are concerned about access to our water rights at our head gate on miner creek, if that area becomes a permanent wilderness area.

If the boundary were placed south of that portion of minor creek paralleling our property and permanent access to the head gate on Minor creek were granted unto perpetuity, then the officers and members of the lodge would recommend and support the conversion to a permanent wilderness area.

We would also like to recommend consideration of a land swap for the property we own on the east side of the Encampment river through which an easement has been granted for the encampment river trail.

There are two reasons that would benefit this project:

First and foremost it would allow the wilderness area to be extended to the bridge at the Encampment river trailhead campground encompassing the entire trail .

Secondly: At the present time some of our members are evaluating the feasibility of developing cabin sites on the east side of the river. A land swap would preclude such development.

On behalf of the officers and members of our lodge, we would like to thank you for addressing our concerns.

Respectfully For the Trustees

Willis Greenwood

Chairman

Building & Grounds committee

February 15, 2018


I’m writing this letter to provide input on the Encampment River Canyon Wilderness Study Area.

To give some perspective on my input, I’ll start with a little of my background.  Although I live out of state, I am a member of the Odd Fellows and have been coming to our family cabin in the Odd Fellow Camp on the Encampment River for over 27 years now.  We tend to get out there two weeks every year but plan on spending more time as we head into retirement.  As an avid outdoorsman, I’m very familiar with the Encampment River and the Encampment River trail.  The trail has so much to offer.  I’ve spent many hours hiking, fishing, and even biking the trail.  On many occasions, we’ve been dropped off at Hog Park (on foot) and hiked and fished all the way back to the cabin – it doesn’t get much better.  I’m also an avid cyclist and although I’ve primarily shifted to road bikes (heading over to Lake Marie and back), I do occasionally ride mountain bikes.  On some occasions, those rides have been on the trail.

I’ve always known of the Wilderness Area starting at Purgatory Gulch heading toward Hog Park as it is well marked.  As such I’ve always stayed out of there with a bike.  Until recently, however, I didn’t realize that a good portion of the trail from Purgatory toward the cabin was also a WSA and under the same restrictions. If the trail remains a WSA or is deemed an official Wilderness area, I would first recommend better signage of such on the boundaries.  Additionally, it would be good to create and/or allow a mountain bike trail from the top of Purgatory (at Blackhaul Mtn Rd) around the edge of the Wilderness area.

Next, as I understand it, the Odd Fellows owns a portion of the land on the trail side of the river from the foot bridge upstream less than a mile.  Currently it is undeveloped and there is obviously an easement for the trail itself.  I would think it be in the best interest of both parties to exchange some/all of that land for land on our side of the Encampment River towards and across Miner Creek.  This would allow the committee to assign similar behavior to all/most of the trail and allow for proper signage at the footbridge.  This would also resolve the permanence of access to the Odd Fellow head-gate on Miner Creek.

Last, regarding alternative mountain bike trails around the proposed Wilderness area, I would be happy to advise and assist.

Robert O’Gorman

February 11, 2018


G. White Encampment WSA Letter


J. White Encampment WSA LetterWillis and I have had the BLM Cleaning Contract, which includes the Encampment River Trail Campground, for 18 years.  During that time we have talked with hundreds of visitors who are from all over the country and from foreign countries as well. Some visit the campground year after year. They come to hike the trail, fish the river, take trail rides on horseback and hike into the wilderness and camp. The feedback we get is always positive. They express appreciation that they can enjoy this beautiful area without the hassle of roads, four wheelers, mountain bikes etc. The visitors that we now have, for the most part, are very conscious of keeping the area clean and leave it just the way they found it.

We also see many local residents that come to hike the trail because of its beauty and proximity to Encampment.

On behalf of all the above mentioned we would support the conversion of the proposed wilderness study area to permanent wilderness area.

Catherine L. Greenwood

February 10, 2018


Please accept my comments concerning the Encampment WSA. My comments are centered around two topics: (1) that the Encampment River trail remain open to mechanized travel (i.e. mountain bikes) into the future and, (2) whether the Encampment WSA should be recommended for Wilderness. These comments pertain to the portion of Encampment River trail that falls within the Encampment River Canyon WSA.

Although the Encampment River trail is not specifically managed for mechanized mountain bike travel, it is suitable for such. Ninety nine percent of the trail can be ridden by a rider with intermediate skills and it is some of the best single-track trail to be found anywhere on the Sierra Madre or Snowy Range. What makes the Encampment River trail in the WSA so valuable to mountain bike riders?

  1. The local US Forest Service District office as well as the local BLM Field Office do not have any designated mountain bike trails identified on any of their lands in the vicinity of Encampment, Saratoga, or the Platte River Valley. There are hiking trails found outside of Wilderness on FS and BLM administered lands but these are not managed for mountain bikes and many are terribly challenging if not impossible to ride. Basically, there are no managed mountain bike trails on public lands on either the Sierra Madre or Snowy Range.
  2. Early access – due to the relatively low elevation and open exposure, the trail becomes open to riding earlier than most anything else in the spring and remains open late in the fall.
  3. The surface tread of the trail is rocky and holds up great to mountain bike use and I challenge anyone to point out any trail damage caused by mountain bikes on the Encampment River Trail.
  4. The trail is close to town (20 minutes from Saratoga and around five minutes from Encampment), and it has proven to be an important resource to locals.
  5. Presently, mountain bike use on the trail is relatively low. Other than locals who ride the trail, riders from out-of-the-area are usually lured to the area by other attractions and as a collateral activity, may ride the Encampment Trail while in the area. A five mile stretch of single track is not going to attract many out-of-the-area mountain bikers as a destination place to ride, therefore, it is doubtful any damage to the trail would occur from mountain bike use in the future.
  6. The trail can be ridden as a mountain bike loop ride as well. The loop ride is as follows: Starting at Riverside, ride up the Blackhall Mountain Road approximately 6 miles to the Forest boundary and the start of the Purgatory Gulch Trail, ride down the Purgatory Gulch Trail approximately 2 miles to the Encampment River Trail, turn north and ride the Encampment Trail approximately 5 miles to the BLM Odd Fellows campground, from there ride the County Road 353 approximately 1.6 miles to State Highway 70, and ride through Encampment approximately 1.5 miles back to Riverside.

Reasons why the Encampment River WSA is not suitable for Wilderness. I base this statement on extensive experience gained while hiking most ridges, drainages, and trails in the WSA.

  1. When one thinks of Wilderness there is usually an expectation of solitude and absence of man-made improvements that accompanies the thought. Unfortunately, the Encampment WSU is bounded on the north by the Odd Fellows development, on the south by the Water Valley Ranch development and Purgatory Gulch, on the East by the Blackhall Mountain Road and on the west by the Dead Horse Park/Finley Park Road. I’ve actually been hiking the WSA on the north end and was able to hear lawn mowers and/or log splitters running coming from the Odd Fellows development. I’ve experienced similar noise while in the south end of the WSA, across the river from Water Valley Ranch. And even in the winter, the drone of snowmobiles on the Finley Hill Road and/or Blackhall Mountain Road can be heard.
  2. here are numerous roads (motorized two tracks) and other development in the WSA. Hike to the top of any ridge in the Encampment WSA and one can see vehicles on either the Blackhall Mountain Road on the east or the Finley Park Road on the west and depending on the ridge, Water Valley Ranch or Odd Fellows may be visible as well…….hardly a Wilderness experience.
  3. Many developments are present in the Encampment WSA such as the old diversion dam, many old mine sites, and the bighorn sheep guzzler located on an eastern ridge. Is all this development consistent with a Wilderness designation? Will the bighorn sheep guzzler have to be removed? If one is looking for a Wilderness trail experience there are numerous miles of hiking trails in the Encampment, Houston Park, Platte River and Savage Run Wilderness areas.

Future Management Affected:

  1. Wildlife Habitat Improvement Projects: The WSA contains mule deer winter range as well as a population of bighorn sheep. Designating the area as Wilderness will certainly affect the type and scope of any wildlife habitat improvement projects, as Wilderness is much more restrictive in terms of what management activities are allowed. Doesn’t this contradict where we should be going in terms of the Mule Deer Initiative?
  2. Fisheries projects: As with wildlife habitat improvement projects, a Wilderness designation will affect the types of projects (if any) that are appropriate for Wilderness. Is this in the best interest of the many anglers that fish the Encampment every year?
  3. Wildland Fire Management: A Wilderness designation will affect what types of wildland firefighting equipment is allowed to be used during fire suppression or fire management operations. Special approvals would be required to use mechanical equipment such as helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft, engines, pumps, chainsaws, etc. This becomes an issue given the WUI (Wildland Urban Interface) adjacent to the area such as Water Valley Ranch, Odd Fellows development, and structures located west of the Blackhall Mountain Road. And given the small size of the WSA, management of any ignition would be limited to a suppression response such as Direct or Perimeter control.

In summary: With 109,511,038 (that’s 109.5 million) acres already designated as Wilderness in the U.S., is this small additional piece really necessary? It seems to me that common sense would indicate that more enjoyment would be experienced by the public by leaving the area as non-Wilderness, where multiple uses could be experienced in a setting so close to town. Potential Compromise: Although I don’t support designating the Encampment River Canyon WSA as Wilderness, a potential compromise would be to designate the area as Wilderness but leave a corridor down the Encampment River Trail where mechanized (not motorized) travel could continue to take place. Thank you for the opportunity to comment and don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions.

Mick Hood

January 24, 2018

I see no benefit to having another wilderness area established on the doorstep of the towns of Encampment and Riverside. The U.S. Government already has jurisdiction and management responsibilities over the proposed area and further mandated restrictions associated with Wilderness Areas do little more than add to the burden of individual citizens to enjoy and use the Public Lands. I suggest that this proposed area remain as it is.

Keith Weiland

January 15, 2018

I am an avid mountain biker and care about public lands, trails, and access to public lands and the trails. If the Encampment River Trail becomes part of the Wilderness – then my family, friends, and I will not be able to enjoy the trail on our mountain bikes. Mountain bikes are not destructive to trails. Horses are often more destructive to trails than mountain bikes. Please do not take away our preferred way of enjoying this trail by enlisting it (the Encampment River Trail) as wilderness. This trail is one of a few trails to ride in this area. Thank you for your consideration.

Christy Smith

January 5, 2018


Dear Carbon County Wyoming Public Lands Initiative Advisory Committee,

I write in regards to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Encampment River Canyon Wilderness Study Area (WSA). I grew up in the North Platte Valley and spent the first 18 years of my life fly fishing and hiking along the Encampment River from Odd Fellows through Commissary Park and big game hunting on BLM WSA land east of the Encampment River. I have accessed the Encampment River from Purgatory Gulch and Mason Gulch countless times to fish, hike, camp, trail run, and mountain bike. In recent years, my undergraduate and graduate studies took me away from the North Platte Valley, and I’m only able to visit home once or twice a year. I always long to return home, and one of the places that I always return is the Encampment River. I am a North Platte Valley native deeply interested in the long-term wellbeing of the Valley—its people and its places.

In September 1991, the BLM published the Wyoming Wilderness Study Report Statewide Overview, designating 45 areas around the state with WSA status to satisfy a 1976 Federal Land Policy and Management Act mandate. I understand that in 2015 the Wyoming County Commissioners Association launched the Wyoming Public Lands Initiative (WPLI), a multi-county legislative package supported by public lands stakeholders to make local decisions regarding the fate of each WSA—to preserve or reclassify the areas, potentially for development. This is a phenomenal opportunity for Wyoming stakeholders to make grassroots decisions about how their public lands are reclassified. Carbon County is one of nine WPLI Advisory Committees in the state, and I am grateful for the commitment and expertise of the committee to thoughtfully consider the best long-term designation for the 4,547-acre Encampment River Canyon WSA. I know that all WPLI Advisory Committees must provide formal recommendations for all WSAs to the Boards of County Commissioners early in 2018. Final recommendations may be imminent, and I hope that sufficient time remains to consider my thoughts herein.

Public land is a tremendous asset to Wyoming. Recreation, agriculture, resource extraction, and conservation are all essential to our Wyoming way of life, and interests must be carefully balanced. I agree with one of our great state leaders, Former Senator Al Simpson, that public land in state hands “is not going to be available, because the state would have the power to dispose of it, and when they get in a crunch—like all of them do—they are going to peddle it off…” The Encampment River Canyon WSA is a jewel in the Upper North Platte Valley, and I firmly believe that the area should be protected from development. I believe that the WSA should be designated as a Wilderness area for the reasons that follow.

Recreation—The Encampment River Canyon WSA provides a wide variety of recreational opportunities, including general license deer hunting, top quality trout fishing, hiking, and horseback riding. Designating the area as Wilderness would protect these invaluable recreational opportunities in perpetuity. Outdoor recreation brings revenue to the Valley, builds community, and attracts educated, productive, healthy young people and families to the Valley. Outdoor recreation is a fundamental pillar to the foundation of any healthy rural community. The Upper North Platte River Valley is still a diamond in the rough, a Jackson Hole of the 1970s. Leaders of the community must look years, decades ahead to ensure our home maintains its public lands in the face of inevitable growth and change. A handful of community members enjoy mountain biking through the WSA along the Encampment River Trail, and I appreciate that a Wilderness designation is a serious concern to these community members, because mechanized vehicles—bicycles included—are prohibited in Wilderness areas. In addition to biking through the Encampment River Canyon WSA, I have mountain biked developed trails in Laramie, Lander, and Jackson as well as several places in Colorado, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Rhode Island. While the Encampment River Trail is one of few single-track trails accessible to Encampment residents today, it is not a remarkable biking destination by any means. The trail is a relatively short and isolated (i.e., without any connecting trails). Looking ahead, I see very optimistic mountain biking opportunities elsewhere in the Valley. Indeed, the Upper North Platte River Valley has the potential to be a destination mountain biking area, and I am not alone in this perspective. The steep, rolling sagebrush-covered terrain that surrounds Encampment and juxtaposes Highway 70 over Battle Pass is very similar to, for instance, the terrain around Salida, Colorado. Over the years, volunteer efforts in Salida (e.g., Salida Mountain Trails, a 501c3 organization) developed world-class mountain biking trails on public lands accessible from downtown. The development of these trails undoubtedly changed the landscape of the Salida community, attracted recreation business and young, active people to the area. Encampment is fully capable of a similar effort elsewhere on BLM land south of town or as an extension of the Bottle Creek trail network already in existence. The mountain biking terrain is here in the Valley. The Encampment River Trail is not it. Lastly, motor vehicles would continue to be prohibited if the area is reclassified as Wilderness. Every corner of the WSA is at most two, maybe two and a half miles from the Encampment River. Therefore, the WSA is small enough that every corner of the area can be reasonably accessed by foot travel or horseback. In summary, I believe that designating the WSA as Wilderness poses more recreational benefits than disadvantages.

Agriculture—I understand that the Encampment River Canyon WSA offers grazing land to a few agricultural stakeholders, and this land use is very important to consider, particularly in our community. Notably, livestock grazing is permitted in BLM Wilderness areas, so this land use would not be jeopardized. Of course, special considerations for required agricultural infrastructure, such as sufficient spring water access high in the WSA, away from the Encampment River riparian zone, and fence upkeep, would need to be addressed.

Natural Resource Extraction—The Encampment River corridor has a rich history of mineral extraction dating back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and is arguably one of the primary reasons why the Upper North Platte Valley was settled in the first place. Today, one can easily find mining test sites pockmarked throughout the Encampment River Canyon WSA; these sites were dug at a time when extraction was a legal and lucrative venture, and yet, the WSA was thankfully left without many significant, large excavation sites. I like to think there wasn’t much to find. Furthermore, returning to resource extraction along the Encampment River is a call to repeat the boom-bust economic cycle caused by copper mining at the turn of the 20th century, the effects from which are seen even today in the town of Encampment, over 100 years later.

To every member of the Carbon County WPLI Advisory Committee, thank you for your time and consideration. Your job is not easy. The loudest voices are those immediately in front of you, but I implore you to listen to the voices that transcend the decades to come.

Sincerely,

Samuel S. Streeter

Prospect Mountain WSA

Dear Advisory Committee, I am co-manager of A Bar A Ranch and would like to express support for designation of the Prospect Creek Wilderness Area and improvement of the existing Prospect Creek Road. I understand that this might require a slight adjustment of the Prospect Creek road pathway and possible expansion of the road easement to give room for road maintenance. I support keeping the current river access, rather than changing access locations and adding road development. This strategy enhances the goal of wild land preservation and preserves open space and wildlife habitat, which are two of the most important resources we have in Carbon County. Guests of A Bar A also visit the Prospect Creek WSA and we have not experienced negative impacts of the current designation. Considering that our guests visit to experience wild and wilderness-like places, designation of wilderness would improve their experience. This is particularly true because of the connection to Savage Run and Prospect Creek wilderness areas. Additionally, we suggest that the committee give serious considering to designation of the Black Cat Forest as a Wilderness area or WSA. The area has been mostly closed to motorized traffic for 10 years and already possesses wilderness characteristics of wild forest and wild and scenic rivers. As with Prospect Creek, we hold the grazing lease. We also guide trail rides in the forest. Wilderness designation of Black Cat would be supportive of our goal to preserve open space and wilderness characteristics along the North Platte Corridor. It is also in line with our recent efforts to maintain open space and habitat for our guests and for future generations. Thank you for your consideration.

Lissa Howe

May 7, 2018


Dear WPLI Committee Members, I would first like to thank the entire committee for allowing me to attend the public open house meeting on April 3, at 2:00pm, in Rawlins, Wyoming. I found the meeting very informative that included great discussion and questions that were presented by the committee and the public. I also would like to thank the committee for your proactive approach towards WSA land designation and the thoughtful time and effort each of you have committed to these projects. In comment and response towards the Prospect Mountain Wilderness Study Area and a few of the proposals the WPLI Committee have considered already, I strongly oppose any relocation of the current Prospect Road or new road construction through the National Forest land, North of the Prospect Mountain WSA, explained and labeled as the Black Cat Forest. I believe relocating a new road, or reclaiming an old forest service road, would negatively impact the private land owners of A Bar A and Big Creek Ranches, as well as the public who access the North Platte River. Increased traffic through the proposed Black Cat Forest route, would send public users and outfitters directly across the river from A Bar A Ranch headquarters. A Bar A Ranch and ranch guests considers the Black Cat Forest an area with many wilderness like characteristics already. Increased traffic through this area would negatively impact our goal of preserving open space and supporting land conversation. I suggest that the Prospect Mountain WSA is designated as wilderness and suggest leaving the existing Prospect Road road for motorized access. I also suggest that the committee considers designating the Black Cat Forest as wilderness in your proposal with Prospect Mountain WSA, an area that would possibly connect two wilderness areas. If Prospect Mountain WSA and Black Cat Forest ever become designated as wilderness, those two areas would nearly connect the Platte River Wilderness and Savage Run Wilderness. In summary, I wish for no relocation of the Prospect Road because of the negative impacts it would have on the adjacent private land owners and public users. I wish that the Prospect Mountain WSA becomes designated as wilderness but allows the existing Prospect Road motorized access to the North Platte River. Thank you for reviewing my comment. If you wish to contact me for clarification or further comment, you’re welcome to call or email. Sincerely, Benjy Duke A Bar A Ranch Expeditions Director

April 24, 2018


As president of Cody Resources LP, which owns and operates A Bar A and Big Creek Ranches, I would like to express our support for designation of the Prospect Creek Wilderness Area and improvement of the existing Prospect Creek Road. We acknowledge that this might require a slight adjustment of the Prospect Creek road pathway and possible expansion of the road easement to give room for road maintenance. We hold the grazing lease on Prospect Creek and designation would not have negative impacts on our operation, provided the existing road is kept as it is or is improved. We also note that keeping the current river access, rather than changing access locations is in keeping with the goal of wild land preservation and preserves open space and wildlife habitat, which are two of the most important resources we have in Carbon County. Guests of A Bar A also visit the Prospect Creek WSA and we have not experienced negative impacts of the current designation. Considering that our guests visit to experience wild and wilderness-like places, designation of wilderness would improve their experience. This is particularly true because of the connection to Savage Run and Prospect Creek wilderness areas. Additionally, we suggest that the committee give serious considering to designation of the Black Cat Forest as a Wilderness area or WSA. The area has been mostly closed to motorized traffic for 10 years and already possesses wilderness characteristics of wild forest and wild and scenic rivers. As with Prospect Creek, we hold the grazing lease. We also guide trail rides in the forest. Wilderness designation of Black Cat would be supportive of our goal to preserve open space and wilderness characteristics along the North Platte Corridor. It is also in line with our recent efforts to maintain open space and habitat for our guests and for future generations.

Justin Howe, Cody Resources President

April 24, 2018


 

G’Day,

I am writing to encourage you to look positively at the proposal to create a second North Platte rover access road. The existing road is often unusable and in my opinion dangerous. I believe option “C” would be the preferable alternative. Please contact me if you have any questions.

Bill Dvorak

Oct 30, 2017

I believe there should be alternative access roads to Prospect.  The existing single track has a steep grade and is dangerous to the public.

Nate Mecikalski

Nov. 12, 2017

Ferris Mountains WSA

We strongly urge the protection of the Ferris Mountains as designated wilderness. We are sorry we can’t attend the meeting to express our love of this unique area and the desire to preserve it for our grandchildren and beyond. Thank you.

Juel and Dawn Trask

June 24, 2018


Pathfinder Ranch Letter

May 30th, 2018


I advocate for a permanent removal of Ferris Mountain from all Wilderness Area considerations including WSA. My neighbors and I operate ranches around Ferris Mountain. Designating it as wilderness impedes our ability to maintain the land we are responsible for under our grazing permits. There are water development and fencing infrastructure that needs to be maintained with modern equipment. Furthermore I am concerned with the overall movement in the state of promoting tourism and recreation as an economic base. I submit that making those changes (including creation of wilderness areas and national recreation areas as attractants to recreationists) will have a detrimental effects on our communities and our natural landscapes. What makes Wyoming great is that it isn’t Colorado. Let’s work to learn from our neighbors to the south by preserving our communities and natural beauties.

Chris Jorgensen

April 14, 2018


I appreciate the opportunity to comment on the Ferris Mountain Wilderness Study Area. I am a 63 year old retired teacher and principal in Casper who enjoys hunting, fishing, backpacking, mountain biking and just getting out in wild country. The Ferris Mountains offer all of these uses. I’ve been fortunate enough to summit Ferris Mountain from two different routes, shoot a cow elk, mountain bike and camp in the area. I would hate to see any more roads into the area. I’m also very much opposed to any mineral development in the Ferris Mountain area. Keep the 4 wheelers on existing roads. Probably the greatest value of the Ferris Mountain Wilderness Study Area is the opportunity for solitude. We need these places!

Thank you for your time and thoughtful deliberation on this topic.

Fred Maguire

December 12, 2017


While Ferris Mountain is one of the lesser known WSAs it may well be one of the most deserving if not the most deserving WSA to be converted to a permanent wilderness area. I have been visiting this remote and scenic area for over forty years … hiking, hunting and photographing its spectacular vistas and wildlife. Most of the traces of its mining history have been obliterated leaving a minimally disturbed hint of its storied past. I have been to the Babb’s mine, climbed the limestone dikes east of Young’s Pass, camped out on the mountain above Cherry Creek, visited the headwaters of Pole Creek, completely circumnavigated the mountain and got stuck in the sand dunes to the south. This mountain is a wild a place as still exists in Wyoming that is not already a wilderness area and it clearly warrants a similar designation.

Robb D. Hitchcock

December 1, 2017

Bennett Mountains WSA


Letter from the Herman Family

June 1, 2018


As a BLM allotment neighbor to the Bennett Mountain Wilderness study area, I am concerned about the area. Our ranching family would like to see the Bennett Mountains remain multiple use. We are concerned for our ranching neighbors who are affected by the proposals as well. If you wish to know why I have concerns you may email me. Thank you,

Marla McNees

March 7, 2018


The Bennett mountain area of northern Carbon county should not be included as a wilderness area, as it would severely effect the sustainability of a ranching family that has been in the area since it was initially settled in the early 1900s. Plus, one should note the proximity of gigantic power lines in clear view, that would require maintenance and possible air support (helicopters) to maintain. I am not sure how you can designate an area “wilderness” with these man made towers in clear view. In conclusion, I fear the encroachment of federal control on this state and there does not need to be any more lands controlled by far away bureaucrats without any pragmatic understanding of the area, wildlife, people and their livelihoods.

James McNees

December 5, 2017


Friday, January 12, 2018

Dear Carbon County Commissioners,

We would like to thank the Carbon County Commissioners for taking an active role in making recommendations for the county Wilderness Study Areas. As the grazing lessee and adjacent landowner of the Bennett Mountain Wilderness Study Area we would like share our opinion. Our ranch, our life, and the Bennett Mountain would be negatively affected if this area is made wilderness. We are strong supporters of our federal lands being managed as multiple use. As multiple use, everyone wins!

In late fall, the members of the Wyoming Public Lands Initiative committee came out to our ranch to talk about and tour the Bennett Mountain Wilderness Study Area. This letter is a follow up to the comments and concerns we have.

Our family has been ranching and grazing here on this land since 1916. The Bennett Mountain Wilderness Study Area is our summer grazing allotment and a wilderness designation would have a direct impact on our operation and on the entire area.

Our concerns are:

1. Fire protection – Our private and state lands would be endangered with no fire protection in a wilderness area. The mountain watershed would be destroyed. There would be loss of habitat for wildlife and livestock. The major power line that parallels the area would be in direct danger from fire.

2. Our grazing allotment – In addition to the losses we could experience without fire protection, our ability to maintain fences, scatter salt, and trim trails with motorized equipment would be halted. We also fear that a designation other than multiple use may not allow grazing

3. Hunting – In wilderness areas, out of state hunters would have to have guides to hunt and that would make out-of-state hunting a rich man’s sport. We have a lot of working class hunters that have enjoyed this area for many years. A wilderness area would not allow hunters to retrieve their game with ATVs.

The Bennett Mountains are indeed rough, rugged, and remote. These are characteristics that won’t change with any designation. Access is limited and difficult. The area is small and contains no significant special features. Grazing and hunting are the two main activities that take place in WSA.

For these reasons, we ask that you do not recommend the Bennett Mountain Wilderness Study Area to be a wilderness area. We ask that you recommend this area to be released back to multiple use. Multiple use serves us, the public, and the land in the best way.

Sincerely,

G.G., Kim, & Chalsey Kortes

Gerald (G.G.), Kim, & Chalsey Kortes

HC 61 Box 112B

Hanna, WY 82327

 

General Comments

Carbon County Public Lands Initiative Dear Advisory Committee: Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA) commends you for your dedicated work over the past two years to address the Wilderness Study Areas in Carbon County. It has been WSGA’s position that these county efforts truly be the product of local engaged citizens. For this reason, to date, we have not engaged directly in providing formal input. However, as you now move toward finalizing your recommendations to the County Commissioners, we believe it is appropriate for us, as a state-wide representative of the ranching industry, to demonstrate our support as well as express our concerns with the recommendations under consideration. Our comments will, for the most part, be general, not specific to any one of the areas under consideration. It is important to recognize that livestock grazing has existed on these lands long before they were designated as Wilderness Study Areas. Grazing has continued, though at times with burdensome constraints, in the WSAs. Properly managed livestock grazing is consistent with and complimentary to whatever final designation you recommend for each of the WSAs under consideration. WSGA accepts that there are some areas of limited size that deserve consideration for Wilderness status. These should be carefully defined and fully analyzed for the impacts of Wilderness designation on traditional uses such as livestock grazing. If areas are designated for Wilderness, WSGA would urge that you explicitly make the Congressional Grazing Guidelines (HOUSE REPORT NO. 101-405, 1990) applicable to such areas. We urge that clear direction be provided that all non-wilderness areas, whatever their formal designation they may carry, be managed under principles of multiple use, constrained only by any specific uses that are explicitly excluded in the proposed legislation. The one WSA that WSGA would like to address in particular is the Ferris Mountain. For numerous reasons, this WSA is inappropriate for consideration for Wilderness designation. These reasons include traditional historic uses, wildlife management and impacts on intermingled and adjacent private and public lands. WSGA will strongly oppose such designation. We do believe that Ferris Mountain should receive consideration for Special Management Designation. This should be accomplished in a manner that continues multiple use management except as constrained by specific provisions agreed to and incorporated in Wyoming WSA Congressional legislation. This approach allows for the flexibility to maintain viable livestock grazing and other acceptable uses while recognizing the limitations on further development that are critical to the integrity of this unique area. We appreciate your careful consideration of our comments. Please contact us should you have questions.

Sincerely, Jim Magagna Executive Vice President

June 21, 2018


Letters from Saratoga School Eighth Graders

Letters from Saratoga School Eighth Graders Cont.


Upon hearing about the proposed increase of wilderness area in Carbon County, I was less than impresses. My family uses and recreates in these mountains all time. The trails system that we once had are now impassable, even on foot, without removing trees. I know many people that take it upon themselves to help clear these trails so they, and many others can still enjoy them. With the proposed increase of wilderness areas, we are being handcuffed even more than we already are. We will no longer be able to use chainsaws to help clear these impassible trails due to all of the dead timber. My other concern is all of the dead trees in the area. A fire is going to happen at some point with a all of the beetle kill that we have. If the proposed wilderness increase goes through, fighting said fire is going to be even harder. Not only will it kill and displace the wildlife, it can potentially spread even further causing damages to structures. That being said, I am strongly against the proposed wilderness area.

Abby Raymer

May 18, 2018


I am not in favor of anymore proposed wilderness in Carbon County due to the fact that the Federal Government cannot currently take care of what is already in wilderness. The trails systems that are in existence are in such extreme disrepair due to falling trees and the lack of trail crews to maintain them. This has been a problem for quite some time. Besides that, it limits the ability for the public to use chainsaws and other methods to clear trails to make them passable. It also removes a lot of the availability to fight fires in wilderness areas. In summary, I don’t think we need to grow government anymore and restrict the use of what we already have.

Rick Hughes

May 18, 2018


Dear Members of the Carbon County WPLI Advisory Committee,

I live in Cheyenne, so I’m not a Carbon County resident nor will I be able to attend your next meeting which appears to be June 5th.  My family and I make a couple of recreational trips to Carbon County federal lands each year (our family tends to stay the night[s] in Saratoga or stopover in Encampment), so these lands are valuable to folks outside of the county.  On one of those trips, we rented snowmobiles and took them up into the Snowy Range from the Ryan Park side.  My family doesn’t derive income from grazing, mining, or any other extractive uses of public land.

Having said all of that, I’m primarily a human-powered or non-motorized recreational user of Carbon County public lands.  Grazing, mining, and other extractive uses are important sources of income.  Riding dirt bikes, snowmobiles, and other recreational vehicles are fun.  Unfortunately, all of these uses are at least somewhat exclusive of conservation values—watershed protection, habitat conservation, and non-motorized recreation.  I’m not sure how many hundreds of thousands of acres of public lands are in Carbon County, but it appears that we’re only talking about 35,000 acres or so in the WPLI.  Unlike northwest Wyoming, the amount of wilderness in the Snowy Range is truly paltry—maybe 40,000 acres now?

I nominate that 100% of the four Carbon County WSAs be nominated to Congress for wilderness designation without encumbrances that would conflict with the Wilderness Act of 1964–motorized vehicles, permanent structures, bicycles, etc.  Assuming that everyone allows for multiple use of our common heritage—extractive, conservation, motorized and non-motorized recreation—35,000 acres seems like a very small contribution to conservation.

Note regarding bicycles in particular:  I’m also a mountain biker, but I firmly believe that bicycles should be excluded from wilderness areas.

Sincerely, Eric Dalton

May 29, 2017

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