(Lander, Wyo.) – They are not there yet. The Fremont County Public Lands Initiative Committee presented a package of recommendations on Wilderness Study Areas to the county commissioners a month ago, a package that was slated to be voted on Tuesday.
The package recommended most of the study areas be returned to public multiple use, including Whiskey Mountain, Dubois Badlands, Lankin Dome, Split Rock, Miller Springs, and Savage Peak. The final package included a recommendation that the lower third of Copper Mountain be studied for development of motorized recreational use, that a portion of Sweetwater Canyon be designated as wilderness with the remainder of the canyon to be managed for public use and that the Bureau of Land Management be directed to pursue land and mineral exchanges of State parcels for the Lander Front/Red Canyon area.
Since the above recommendation was forwarded to the commission, a minority report from two committee members opposed to the final package resulted in conversations that, in the past week, resulted in the proposed addition of three modifications to the final report, according to Committee Chairman Doug Thompson. At Tuesday’s meeting, he said eight of the 10 members of the committee had agreed, via emails and telephone conversations, to add the three modifications. One of the two dissenting committee members who attended Tuesday’s meeting, Julia Stuble of Lander, said she would withdraw her opposition to the final package if the modifications were approved.
The proposed modifications are: 1.) Add the upstream portion of the Sweetwater Canyon to the proposed wilderness area; 2.) The non-motorized part of the Dubois Badlands would be designated as a NCA (National Capitol Authority, or, land intended for use primarily for public recreation, conservation or amenity purposes and which may include facilities for the enjoyment or convenience of the public); and, 3.) Designate a special management area for the Rocks Complex (Split Rock area).
Because the entire committee had not met in person on the modifications, Commission Chairman Travis Becker said he wanted the group to meet one more time and forward an official recommendation on those three modifications only. Thompson agreed and said the committee would come back in a week with two recommendations, the original package of recommendations and one package that contained the modifications. The commission could then vote on which package they would support.
Becker said he favored the original recommendations, but three other commissioners, Ray Price, Larry Allen and Jennifer McCarty, indicated they could support adding the modifications. Commissioner Clarence Thomas said he wanted to see one combined report so it would be clear what he would be voting on.
To read the final report, without the modifications, click here.