Wyoming Year End Accomplishments

2021 was a big year for Wyoming BHA. All told, we raised over $100,000 for public access. We helped expand access to 33,000 acres of premier backcountry and we are pushing back against attempts to lock us out of our public lands. We fought a land exchange that would have resulted in the loss of quality backcountry hunting grounds. We removed miles of fencing, cleared miles of trail, collected tons of garbage, and organized multiple events that ranged from CWD workshops to a trapping and bird dog educational seminar. Our leadership team participated in multiple round tables and tirelessly advocated for our public lands, waters, and wildlife. 

wyoming-corner-crossing-case.jpegCorner Crossing:

This hunting season four hunters were cited for criminal trespass in Carbon County, Wyoming for corner crossing. They have pleaded "not guilty" and currently this case is pending. Corner crossing is a legal grey area that stems from the public's desire to access their public land by stepping from one corner of public to another. We believe this act does not violate law or cause any negative impacts to private landowners and their use of their property. These four hunters took every precaution to make certain private land was not touched. In 2004, a hunter was acquitted of a corner cross to hunt trespass in Albany County. This charge is a criminal trespass and acquittals of these hunters would set the stage for more access to the public lands we own. It is crucial public land hunters band together to fight for access to cornered public land!

To that end, the Wyoming Chapter of BHA has set up a Donation Page to help pay for legal representation for these four hunters. Not only do we want to support these hunters we need to prevent a negative legal precedent. 

Across the nation ambiguities around the legality of accessing public lands at adjoining corners (popularly known as 'corner crossing') prevent sportsmen and women from setting foot on significant portions of our public estate. Access to quality habitat on public lands is critical to sustaining our hunting heritage. As such, it's imperative that hunters fight for access and defend our public trust when necessary.

Take the sportsmen and women's corner crossing pledge and speak up for public access to your public lands. 

ENL_-_20210814_163703.jpgRaymond Mountain Wilderness Study Area:

Looming large in Southwestern Wyoming is Raymond Mountain. Within its range lies a large block of landlocked public land, including a 33,000 acre Bureau of Land Management Wilderness Study Area--thats the equivalent of 33,000 football fields sports fans.

Historically, this unit of the BLM managed System of Conservation Lands was nearly inaccessible to its heir apparent--the public.

Thanks to a generous donation from Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation the Wyoming Game and Fish acquired a public access easement to the 33,000 acre Raymond Mountain Wilderness Study Area (WSA).

However, this easement through private lands had significant infrastructure costs before it could be available. Visitor services were necessary to ensure protection of adjacent private and public easement resources. Fences needed built, access roads needed graveled, and trailhead infrastructure was necessary to provide sustainable access to the WSA.

Knowing BHA members and supporters, we knew there was an untapped legion of backcountry badasses who value access to wild public land....and we were right! We couldn't have done this without you, our partners, or without a generous donation from Wyoming Game and Fish Commissioner Gay Lynn Byrd. 

Thanks to you WY BHA raised and donated $47,000 to expand access to our public lands and participated in a work project to help develop the necessary infrastructure. 

Columbus Peak Land Exchange:

The Wyoming BHA board voted unanimously to oppose the State Lands and Investments Columbus Peak land exchange outside Dayton Wyoming. The board participated in public meetings and conversations with the State of Wyoming prior to writing a formal letter to oppose. "Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (BHA) of Wyoming is writing this letter to express our continued opposition to the Columbus Peak Ranch Exchange in Sheridan County. After careful consideration of this exchange, WY BHA does not believe there is adequate benefit to the citizens of Wyoming to move forward for a variety of reasons. The value discrepancy, the quality of the wildlife habitat, and the intrinsic backcountry value of the property that the State would lose are some of those reasons. This letter of opposition comes on behalf of our Wyoming BHA board who voted unanimously in opposition to this exchange. We urge the State Lands and Investments board to vote no/against this land exchange." - Wyoming BHA

Pete.jpgRegional Efforts:

The Cody Region was very active this year, hosting a film fest and pint night in the Spring, clearing trail with the Backcountry Horsemen, supporting the Cody 3-D archery shoot, cleaning up hundreds of pounds of garbage and invasive weeds, and organizing educational events that included a CWD clinic in the Fall with the game and fish office in Cody. They are currently working with the Beartooth Ranch and Pheasants Forever to see if we can help fund a habitat enhancement project on the ranch.

In Sheridan, members of BHA worked with Game and Fish, Wyoming Wildlife Association and Americorps to complete a fence pull on Bud Love Wildlife Management area outside Buffalo Wyoming. We ran point on the Columbus Peak Land Exchange, led multiple work projects, became certified hunter education instructors, and organized efforts to strengthen community and agency partnerships.

 

Kayla_BLM_2021-2.jpgIn Western Wyoming we organized the virtual event "Trapping, Bird Dogs, & Public Lands," featuring Carter Niemeyer and Tom Decker as our subject matter experts on trapping and wildlife management, as well as Seth Bynum, DVM, our expert in bird dog health and safety. This fall, Liz Lynch joined the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) stakeholder group as part of the WGFD's two-year collaborative process that will help guide future managment decision making for Elk Feedgrounds in Wyoming. This currently involves weekly shared learning and Q&A sessions. After the shared learning phase is done, stakeholder groups will help provide feedback to policymakers based on what we've learned and our organizations' priorities. The NGO stakeholder group features both "hook and bullet" conservation organizations as well as non-hunting organizations, and presents a unique opportunity for WY BHA in terms of networking, community building, and directly impacting wildlife and habitat management in our state.

Liz also participated in the Groo Canyon work day at the newly-accessible Raymond Mountain WSA with fellow WY BHA Chapter Leader, Jared Oakleaf, as well as volunteers from Wyoming RMEF and WGFD this summer. Liz has been working alongside WY BHA Chapter Leader Erik Kramer to create a new vision for our chapter's social media and communications strategies to help boost our chapter's engagement and membership. Lastly, Erik has been collaborating with a collective of conservation groups, recreation organizations, and tribal representatives to develop recommendations for the Bridger-Teton National Forest's anticipated forest plan revision, ensuring that Wyoming hunter and angler interests are represented in any changes to the forest management plan. Erik also participated in a work day with Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation, 2% for Conservation, Jackson Hole Ecotours to remove one mile of barbed wire fence in prime wildlife habitat in the Gros Ventre Wilderness. 

In South East Wyoming we have been busy building our team, ridding our public lands of tons of garbage, organizing group outings including fishing trips and cookouts, and engaging with elected officials at the capitol.

Please contact us to learn how you can get involved with the Wyoming chapter!

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About Brien Webster

Programs Manager & Colorado & Wyoming Chapter Coordinator

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