Sporting groups applaud Forest Service decision on Wyoming Range

For immediate release: Dec. 16, 2016


Brett Prettyman, Intermountain Region Communications Director Trout Unlimited, 801-209-5320,

Sportsmen and women celebrated Friday when the Bridger-Teton National Forest finally brought closure to a decades-long effort to protect critical fish and wildlife habitat in the Wyoming Range of western Wyoming. The Forest Service decision will not allow leasing on about 39,400 undeveloped acres over 30 lease parcels inside the area protected by the Wyoming Range Legacy Act in 2009.

I make a living in the industry and have been a miner for 14 years. There is a time and place for oil and gas development. The Wyoming Range is not the place. Everywhere there is oil and gas development, roads are predominant and carve up the landscape, said Tim Kuball, a resident of southwest Wyoming. The Wyoming Range is a place of retreat to get away. My wife and I fill the freezer every year with animals we hunt there every summer we go camping and fishing. Its home away from home, but most importantly, I want my kids to hunt and fish there.

Wyoming hunters and anglers sought permanent protection of the Wyoming Range for more than a decade in an effort that culminated in the passage of the Wyoming Range Legacy Act in 2009 federal legislation that declared 1.2 million acres of national forest land off limits to future oil and gas leasing. The legislation did not address the leases in question and sportsmen and women have been fighting for a permanent resolution ever since. The Wyoming Range is an important home for native cutthroat trout and recognized as one of the best mule deer hunting areas in the West.

Maintaining a balance between the energy industry and outdoor recreation is vital in Wyoming, said Monte Morlock, of Rock Springs, who has family and friends in the industry. He also took his first moose in the Wyoming Range in 1983. But hunting and fishing are part of our heritage and also play an important part of the outdoor recreation economy in our state. The Wyoming Range is a place worth fighting to protect and some places need to be off limits to development.

The review process for the leases stretched out over a decade and considered a wide variety of alternatives. The Forest Service received more than 20,000 comments on the draft environmental impact statement.

Access to intact, natural landscapes and the transformational experiences they offer is essential to outdoor-industry related businesses, said John Gans, NOLS Executive Director. The Wyoming Range has provided rich rewards to numerous visitors for generations. We need to keep it the way it is.

The draw to locals from these mountains, and the sustainable recreation economy that they support, were a key component of many sportsmen and womens comments on the Wyoming Range environmental impact statement. The same groundswell of support for permanently retiring the range from future oil and gas leasing, made law through the Wyoming Range Legacy Act, drives the desire to keep this east gateway undeveloped. Hunting, fishing, skiing, snowmobiling, horseback riding, backpacking, and camping can continue in perpetuity.

Groups supporting the decison include:

Back Country Horseman of America

Backcountry Hunters and Anglers

Bowhunters of Wyoming

Muley Fanatic Foundation

National Outdoor Leadership School

Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership

Trout Unlimited

Wyoming Federation of Union Sportsmen

Wyoming Game Wardens Association

Wyoming Wild Sheep Foundation

Wyoming Wildlife Federation

Yellowstone Country Bear Hunters Association