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Wyoming BLM Conservation Plan Meetings

Photo Credit: Borsattomarcos

Wyoming BLM Conservation Plan Meetings

By Jaden Bales

Two decades after the Rock Springs Resource Management Plan revision process began, the Bureau of Land Management released their draft in mid-August this year. 

Part of the process is for the public to be engaged in meetings with BLM staff about decisions for what the agency will do on this public ground, which covers an area bigger than the state of Connecticut, into the future. 

The first meeting this year was held in Lyman, WY on September 19th. There was a packed room including policemen outside helping coordinate traffic and usher folks into the building for the highly anticipated event. 

With barely any elbow room; various stakeholders from OHV users, to livestock grazers, to oil and gas, and sportsmen, who don’t always find common ground, but on that day, agreed there will need to be changes from the draft to the final plan implemented by the BLM. 

Wyoming Wildlife Federation’s Sam Lockwood said, “I think most of Uintah County was there, and as to be expected there was a lot of negative sentiment towards the preferred proposal and a lot of concerns from locals as well as agency folks.”

Regarding the public meeting process as a whole, he also said, “a rancher in attendance pointed out this a positive in the fact that it brings everyone to the table, people who don’t normally see eye to eye, and let’s us have a conversation on what is best for the area and the communities that will be impacted by this new management plan.”

The BLM’s Land Use Plan Meetings have stations specific to their expertise, like cultural resources, wildlife, fisheries, energy, and others. There was no formal presentation planned, however at the Lyman meeting, the BLM made an impromptu decision to provide a singular presentation to the entire room because of the immense attendance. 

The second of three public meetings was held on Tuesday, September 26th, and like Lyman, it was a packed house. The Big Piney meeting was kicked off with a large presentation by Kimberly Foster, the field manager for the Rock Springs Field Office. She explained how these decisions were largely guided by the top down organization that is the BLM, as well as that these BLM employees on the ground are Wyomingites, and while they are not the decision makers in the agency who brought the preferred alternative, they are the folks that the public interacts with at the meetings.

She also reminded people the importance of submitting formal public comments for her to bring to the higher-levels within the agency. Those public comments will be reviewed at the end of the 90-day comment period, which is November 16, 2023. 

Additionally, Ms. Foster told the crowd there was not an opportunity at the local meeting for people to voice comments out loud at the forum. This reduces large diatribes by fired-up members of the public and maintains productivity so the higher-ups at the organization can see the formal comments submitted by the people who live, work, and recreate in the field office’s public lands. It also allowed concerned citizens to talk directly to the experts in the issue who know the details of which the plan addresses. 

Members of the Wyoming Wildlife Federation staff in these meetings noted public sentiment is largely unanimous – there is a lot of desire for there to be major changes from the Preferred Alternative. 

“In the history of my 23-year tenure in Wyoming conservation, we have never seen a first negotiating step that is heavily conservation-minded,” said Wyoming Wildlife Federation’s Executive Director, Joy Bannon. 

“The BLM’s preferred alternative is quite radical for the public of Wyoming – there are management restrictions that are vastly different from the current plan, and the agency expects changes from their proposal from public comment,” she continued.

The third and final public meeting occurs tonight, September 27th, 2023 in Rock Springs, WY. Situated in the heart of these 3.6 million acres of public lands, the attendance is expected to be immense once again, and may overflow the larger venue chosen for this public meeting. It is expected to be standing room only. 

It’s clear, the people of Wyoming love their public lands and the multi-use of them, whether it’s for hunting, angling, OHV use, energy development, grazing, and much more. As Americans, it’s our civic responsibility to take part in the management of our public lands, and the Rock Springs Resource Management Plan Draft process is a great example of this. 

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