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Open Comments for Rock Springs Land Grab Extended

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The proposed plan threatens to close 10,000 miles of trails in Wyoming. Public comment, which can be completed online, has been extended to January 17, 2024.
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The Bureau of Land Management is extending public comment for their Rock Springs Resource Management Plan until January 17, 2024. The Rock Springs Management Plan is a BLM initiative to dictate how 3.7 million acres of land in the southwestern portion of Wyoming are managed and accessed. See the end of this article for instructions on how to voice your opinion online.

The draft of the plan favored by BLM and the Biden administration is the most restrictive, designating more than 1.6 million acres as Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC). According to Wyoming State Representative Scott Heiner, this will result in 10,000 miles of non-paved roadways and off-road trail closures. In addition, the restrictive version of the plan will limit Wyoming’s access to mining & drilling— a critical revenue driver for the state—restrict agriculture to the point of ranch closures, and severely limit hunting.

ACECs have historically closed off access to other uses and have allowed for extremely restrictive management actions to take place all in the name of “conservation”. ACECs are poorly defined, and management and allowable uses can vary from area to area. For this reason, any creation of new ACECs is problematic.

BlueRibbon Coalition

This area of Wyoming is popular for off-roading and overlanding, including the Killpecker Sand Dunes in the heart of the Red Desert.

killpacker sandunes wyoming
Killpecker Sand Dunes, courtesy of Wyoming BLM

The image below reveals the restriction of lands to off-highway vehicles under the BLM’s preferred plan.

blm rock springs restrictions
Rock Springs Field Office Draft Resource Management Plan

However, Wyoming state representative Heiner worries that the trail closures will be even worse than the map indicates. In his town hall presentation this past Monday, Heiner explained that the BLM will detail the road and trail closures after the plan is enacted. When speaking with a retired BLM employee who worked on the plan, according to Heiner, the source said, “If [you] could see the actual road-use map, it would scare every one of us… when that comes down, it will be a rock falling… Anything that doesn’t have a recorded right of way will be closed.”

In his summary slide at the presentation, Heiner stated the following:

  • $1 billion impact to the State of Wyoming (52% lower)
  • Loss of revenue for local government agencies and school districts
  • Loss of over 3,450 jobs in southwestern Wyoming
  • Some ranches will not be sustainable
  • Returns 10,000 miles of trails and roads to “natural conditions”
  • Severely limit weed, pest, and fire management practices
  • De-emphasizes recreation in favor of conservation and preservation

The governor of Wyoming, Mark Gordon, has come out against the BLM Rock Springs Management plan. In addition, Sheriff Grossnickle of Sweetwater, a county affected by the plan, says he will not enforce it if it is passed.  From what we can gather, the plan seems to be overwhelmingly opposed by locals. However, pressure is coming from DC.

You can watch Representative Scott Heiner’s town hall below.

If you can spare five minutes, please consider voicing your opinion by clicking here. Wait a few seconds until a green box appears on the left-hand menu that says “Participate Now.”  Click it and fill out the form.

In addition, consider donating to BlueRibbon Coalition, which has been fighting this land grab, among others.

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