(Cheyenne, WY) – Governor Mark Gordon signed House Bill 122, Reliable Funding for Hunting and Fishing Access, into law on April 2nd. By increasing the cost of a conservation stamp, the legislation provides funding for willing landowners to open access or create easements that unlock inaccessible public and state lands.
This bill passed through the 2021 legislative session thanks to the support of passionate hunters and anglers and lawmakers who value the strong sporting heritage here in Wyoming, shared the Wyoming Wildlife Federation (WWF).
Representative Cyrus Western of Sheridan, an avid hunter and angler, was the primary sponsor of the bill but stressed the collaborative and bipartisan support behind it.
“This was a team effort of the highest order,” said Western. “From industry leaders to local hunters and sportsmen groups, there was an authentic and organic push for this legislation by people who hold public access near and dear. Sportsmen and women made their voices heard by coming out to support this bill in big numbers.”
The legislation raises the cost of an annual conservation stamp, which hunters and anglers are required to purchase with their licenses, by $9 to create a fund for the Wyoming Game and Fish to develop more access agreements to private and landlocked or difficult-to-access public and state lands. This will help complement Wyoming’s existing Access Yes walk-in access program with additional opportunities for hunting and fishing.
The recent easement created to access Raymond Mountain near the Wyoming-Idaho border is a perfect example: That agreement provided improved access to 33,000 acres.
WWF’s Government Affairs Director, Jess Johnson had been gauging member support for a bill of this kind for over a year. In a survey of its members, 75% said they would support a $5–10 fee to increase hunter and angler access in Wyoming.
“It’s clear access is important to people who hunt in Wyoming statewide. This bill really was passed through the voice of proactive hunters and anglers.”
“This is the single most important thing done for Wyoming hunter and angler access in more than 20 years,” said Dwayne Meadows, executive director of the WWF.
More than 4 million acres of federal and state lands in Wyoming lack permanent legal public access because they are surrounded by private lands, according to a report by the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and onX, which helped spur the legislation.
“Not only is this a great step in addressing the landlocked issue for hunters and anglers, it also provides landowners a voluntary opportunity for additional income to maintain their ranches and livelihoods,” said Nick Dobric, Wyoming field representative for the TRCP.
The bill also directs a small portion of funds to making roadways safer for drivers and wildlife, as well as supporting jobs by funding wildlife-friendly highway crossing structures and fish passage projects.
Along with WWF and Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, other sportsmen’s organizations that supported the bill were Mule Deer Foundation, Western Bear Foundation, Wyoming Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Trout Unlimited, Muley Fanatic Foundation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Water for Wildlife Foundation, One Shot Antelope Hunt Club, and Bowhunters of Wyoming.
Fremont County representatives who voted in favor of the bill:
Senate: Case, Cooper
House: Clifford, Larsen, Oakley