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By Marcus Huff
Staff Writer 

WPLI works on survey for WSA areas

WORLAND – Washakie County’s Wyoming Public Lands Initiative (WPLI) Advisory Committee met Wednesday at the Washakie County Fairgrounds to continue the consensus process to determine best-use for county wilderness study areas (WSA).

 

March 3, 2018



WORLAND – Washakie County’s Wyoming Public Lands Initiative (WPLI) Advisory Committee met Wednesday at the Washakie County Fairgrounds to continue the consensus process to determine best-use for county wilderness study areas (WSA).

The goal of the WPLI group is to reach a consensus as to the use of the WSAs in the county, through public input. The primary areas of concentration in Washakie County include the Honeycombs (located between Ten Sleep and Worland), Cedar Mountain (south of Winchester and shared with Hot Springs County) and Bobcat Draw (in the northwest corner of the county, shared with Big Horn County).

The WPLI group heard from Noelle Glines-Bovio, a National Conservation Lands specialist with the Bureau of Land Management, who answered questions of the group and defined the different classes of management under the BLM.

“Once you put a designation out there [on a WSA], it can change the management of that piece of land,” explained county Commissioner Aaron Anderson, who has been facilitating the process. “Bovio answered a lot of the group’s questions. It was pretty enlightening.”

The WPLI group, previously taking public consensus votes on various recommendations, instead filled out a 22-question subcommittee options survey on Wednesday, defining their recommendations for the WSAs.

“The survey will allow us to go back and identify where we have a consensus based on percentages,” explained Anderson.

Anderson also elaborated that the county commission is concerned that the group may be getting worn out with the process after a year.

“Everyone involved has been civil in reaching their recommendations for best-use, but ideological differences have made it hard to get to a consensus,” said Anderson. “As a commission, we will have to take what we get and make a legislative recommendation.”

Once committee recommendations have been formalized and approved by the county commission, the final recommendations of the WPLI will be sent to a federal delegation for introduction in the U.S. House and Senate in 2018.

Last month, the working group reviewed and soundly rejected a conservation proposal from the Wilderness Society, which would recommended the exchange of 7,000 acres of state sections within scenic and recreation areas, giving the state higher development potential in exchange for lands to be put under protection.

The proposal outlined creating a National Recreation Area at the Honeycombs WSA, a National Scenic Area at Cedar Mountain and a National Scenic and Wilderness Area at Bobcat Draw.

Most of the working group members voiced that the proposal was a step back from the consensus process so far, and that the late admission of the proposal hindered the process and required more time for study.

Under the WPLI, all 23 counties have been invited to participate in the initiative, and each Board of County Commissioners will decide if their county will join the effort. Each county will create a County Advisory Team, made up of members from agriculture, conservation, energy, recreation districts and county commissioners to review and designate the lands in their area.

The Washakie County Advisory Committee is comprised of representatives of non-motorized recreation, motorized recreation, agriculture and ranching, sportsmen, energy interests, conservation and environmental concerns, the local conservation district and the general public.

Members include Dan Rice, Shawn Christenson, Justin Smith, Richard Kroger, Dru Bower, Dwight Maryland, Karen Fenton, Ron Harvey, Aaron Anderson, Stan Wostenberg, Kaylea Matlock, and C.J. Grimes.

“I’ve really got to compliment everyone that’s been working and considering these options,” noted Anderson. “Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it reaches a middle where you’ve got some things not everyone likes, but I think the group is willing to move forward and give it one more go.”

 
 

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