Jan. 24, 2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Tom Reed or Cathy Purves, both for Sportsmen for the Wyoming Range, 307-349-2558
CHEYENNE, Wyo. -- A historic coalition of hunters, anglers and sporting organizations launched a statewide effort to help preserve access to the Wyoming Range.
The group, named Sportsmen for the Wyoming Range ( http://www.WyomingRangeSportsmen.org ), is comprised of the state's most prominent sporting organizations. The goal of the group is to maintain the range's quality public hunting and fishing opportunities and traditional Wyoming lifestyles by keeping the range relatively free of industrial oil and gas activity. The network is led by two well-known Wyoming residents, Mike Eastman and Duane Hyde, who felt they could no longer sit on the sidelines.
"The Wyoming Range is some of the best hunting and fishing land in the entire world," said Eastman. "For generations we have used this land and enjoyed the tremendous habitat for Wyoming wildlife. It was time for sportsmen across the state to stand up and make sure this land is available for future generations."
Eastman is the publisher of The Eastmans' Hunting Journal and The Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal. Hyde is the retired Afton game warden of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and spent his career working in the Wyoming Range.
Hyde who spent over 30 years patrolling the Wyoming Range stated, "I spent most of my career in the Wyoming Range. It was my 'office' and it is still my backyard and my home. It is a special place. It's a place that generations of Wyoming families have enjoyed. I hope it stays that way."
Tom Reed of Trout Unlimited, one of the key sponsoring groups, talked about many of the group's goals. First he said is to raise awareness about the Wyoming Range and the threat to hunting and fishing habitat. The group launched a dynamic website http://www.WyomingRangeSportsmen.org. "Through this website, people can access information, view interactive maps, and take action," said Reed. "We have seen through surveys* and our own outreach that when people know what is going on they want to join our effort." (*Statewide survey results available) Reed has hunted and fished in the Wyoming Range for nearly twenty years.
A theme of the launch event was keeping true multiple use a reality for the Wyoming Range. "As sportsmen, we understand that Wyoming has great resources, both with energy development and when it comes to some of the richest country for sportsmen in the entire world," said Reed. "The Wyoming Range is home to some of the best trout fishing, hunting and outdoor recreation in the entire state. Sportsmen understand the need to preserve the freedom to use this land as they have for generations."
The problem the group hopes to solve is the continued oil and gas leasing of the Wyoming Range. More than 150,000 acres of the Wyoming Range have been leased by the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management for energy exploration and development, and an additional 44,600 acres have been leased through August of 2006.
"With all of this land being leased, we're worried that sportsmen's rights will be sacrificed and that some of the best fishing, hunting and recreation in the country will be lost forever," Reed said. "We realize that industries like oil and gas companies bring a lot of money to Wyoming and we absolutely support them, but we also believe that there are some places that should be left as they are for our sons and daughters to hunt and fish and enjoy for years to come. The Wyoming Range is such a place."
The group has proposed a two pronged solution they hope will be fair to sportsmen, landowners and energy developers. The proposal:
1) No new oil and gas leases on PUBLIC lands in the Wyoming Range
2) A process that would allow for trade-outs or buy-outs of existing oil and gas leases at fair market value (agreed to by leaseholders) and a retirement of leases that are traded or bought
The group said they plan to meet with elected officials in Wyoming, Wyoming's congressional delegation and leaseholders. "This is a common-sense solution that has worked in other places," said Reed. "By taking action now, we can guarantee sportsmen can enjoy this paradise for generations."
Bowhunters of Wyoming
Izaak Walton League, Travelle Chapter
Mule Deer Foundation
National Outdoor Leadership School
Orion, The Hunters Institute
Snowy Range Fly Casters
Sublette County Outfitters and Guides Assn.
Wyoming Backcountry Horsemen of America
Wyoming Backcountry Hunters & Anglers
Wyoming Game Wardens Association
Wyoming Outfitters and Guides Assn.
Wyoming Wildlife Federation