Public forum Tuesday on dispersed camping on forest lands


August 25, 2022

SHERIDAN — Bighorn National Forest recreation managers are hosting a series of six public forums to collect input on dispersed camping management.

Interested forest users may join anytime during the meeting and stay as long or as little as you like; there will be no formal presentations.

Forest Service officials are looking for conversations around dispersed camping management and the public’s thoughts about the Dispersed Camping Task Force recommendations that managers are considering implementing.

The public forum in Worland will be at the Washakie County Library from 4 to 6 p.m.

There will also be a forum on Sept. 6 at Greybull Town Hall from 4 to 6 p.m.

Other meetings have been in Gillette, Lovell, Sheridan and Buffalo tonight (Thursday) at the Johnson County Fire Hall from 4 to 6 p.m.

During the summer of 2022, managers have been asking for public input to update camping regulations based on recommendations from the citizen-led Dispersed Camping Task Force. The proposal includes changing the moving requirement, a consistent approach to scenic by-way management where highway 16 would have a no-camping buffer like highway 14 and 14A, and consistency with all other national forests in the region to change to a year-round 14-day stay limit.

In addition to updating the regulations, the Task Force suggested the following items, which are also being considered by Forest managers:

—Implement a sticker program to authorize dispersed camping

—Identify and assign designated dispersed camping sites

—Expand Jaws Trailhead to allow overnight camping, including livestock

In 2016, the Big Horn Mountain Coalition, in coordination with Bighorn National Forest staff, initiated a public discussion of dispersed camping in the Forest. The Coalition found the public agreed that issues with dispersed camping are a widespread problem. In response, the Coalition solicited each of the four counties comprising the Forest to seek interested citizens to participate in a collaborative task force. The goal of the Dispersed Camping Task Force was to review the findings of the Coalition surveys, hear the concerns of the Forest, and work on building possible solutions.

After a year of monthly public meetings, that were advertised by the counties and Coalition, the Task Force submitted a list of recommendations to Bighorn National Forest managers. Due to staffing shortages and the pandemic, Forest officials were only able to implement one recommendation, an extension of the ending dates of the camping stay limits in 2020 (from September 10 to September 30).


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