County right to suggest WSA release

 


Dear Editor,

All Wilderness Study Areas in Sweetwater County have been managed by the BLM as de facto Wilderness for 40 years. Real “Wilderness Area” designations can only be done by an act of Congress, so our local WSAs clearly are not real Wilderness.

Sweetwater County’s WSA were created by the BLM between 1976 and 1980 when their “roadless areas” were “inventoried” for potential “wilderness characteristics.” In 1908, the BLM delineated 42 WSAs statewide -- 13 of which are in Sweetwater County.

The Wyoming Wilderness Act was enacted by Congress in 1984 and set aside several U.S. Forest Service areas as real Wilderness. But notably, the Wyoming Wilderness Act did not include any BLM areas. Then in 1991, Wyoming BLM recommended to Congress that only about half its WSA acres should become real Wilderness; but still, even though the BLM scaled back its Wilderness area recommendation by half, nothing has happened for 27 years.

The fact of the matter is that nothing has happened, ever, over the 40 years these areas have been “studied” for designation as real Wilderness. They’ve just been kept locked up largely away from public use and benefit.

Consequently, the Sweetwater County Commission was right to recommend that it’s time -- past time -- that all WSAs in Sweetwater County be released from their uses, which does not mean they would automatically be opened for development. Rather, it would mean they are subject to future land use allocations under the BLM’s Resource Management Plan process, which could potentially result in various broader uses, as well as continued narrow uses, as the RMP process deems appropriate for each individual area.


We applaud our Commission for its recommendation to release WSAs and look forward to the day these public lands can be used for a broader range of appropriate multiple uses.

 

Brian Parks,

Sweetwater Snowpokes Snowmobile and ATV Club

Rock Springs

 

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