May 8, 2006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
TU, sportsmen ask for protection of Wyomings backcountry hunting and fishing retreats
New report shows importance of roadless lands to fish and wildlife
CODY Trout Unlimited and a host of Wyoming sportsmen are asking the states governor and federal delegation to protect the remaining 3.2 million acres of roadless backcountry and the hunting and fishing resources within them from further development, the organization announced Monday during a press conference.
These places are special to a lot of people, and if were not careful, were going to lose them, said Tom Reed, Wyoming field coordinator for Trout Unlimited and chief author of TUs newest report, Where the Wild Lands Are: Wyoming. The report details the direct connection between hunting and fishing success and Wyomings undeveloped backcountry. Wyoming is one of the best destinations for hunters and anglers in the country. At the rate our state is being developed, it wont be that special much longer. Were asking Gov. Freudenthal and our federal delegation to consider the long-term resources these areas contain, and wed like very much for these areas to remain off limits to further development.
Al Sammons, an avid backcountry horseman and hunter, noted that oil and gas development has its place in Wyoming, but the sacrifice for unchecked exploration and drilling is a huge one.
While energy development is certainly important to our country today, its irresponsible to compromise long-term, above-ground resources in places that have so much to offer, he said. Sammons operates Sammons Oil Co. in Riverton, and favors responsible energy development. Unfortunately, he said, the countrys thirst for energy is resulting in poorly formulated exploration and development strategies that are costing sportsmen their last, best places to hunt and fish.
Theres no question that our best hunting and fishing is in the backcountry, said Harry Harju, retired biologist for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. These are the places where weve tread lightly over the last century and a half, so theyre in good shape, and they provide the best habitat for our fish and game. For that reason, they deserve some degree of protectionwithout them, our state loses much of its character. These are the places that define Wyoming. If we dont have them, were not much different than other places, where the backcountry is gone.
Susan Reaves, secretary of the East Yellowstone Trout Unlimited, has devoted hours and hours of volunteer time to restore damaged fish habitat. The effort she put forth on these projectsand the efforts of hundreds of Wyoming Trout Unlimited volunteers on various restoration projectscould be sacrificed if upstream habitat is developed in the search for oil and gas.
Theres too much at stake to rush into some of these areas, Reaves said. These places provide Wyoming anglers and hunters with virtually unlimited opportunity. Developing them leads to degradation and the value of our hunting and fishing in Wyoming will decline, not only for us, but for generations to come. Im not in favor of sacrificing resources that can pay dividends for generations.
Its important to note, Reed said, that TU isnt asking for special designations, road closures or access limitations in the backcountry.
Were simply asking to keep things like they are, to keep the status quo in place, he said.
Dave Glenn, chairman of the Wyoming chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, defended the land-use balance in Wyoming.
Some of my best friends take their ATVs and go hunting every fall, and thats great, he said. There are places where thats allowed and thats appropriate. But there are places that should be left like they are now, so everyone can enjoy our public landswere fortunate to have room for everyone, and thats the way it should be.
There are plenty of places for people to go in their car or on their ATV, he said. Were losing places for people to access without seeing cars and ATVs. We need to keep these places as they are today and keep the balance we have in place today in place tomorrow.
About the participants:
Susan Reaves is the secretary of the East Yellowstone Chapter of Trout Unlimited in Cody. Through the local chapter, she has invested time in habitat restoration projects, fish rescue and education through a womens fly fishing clinic. She also volunteers for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
Al Sammons operates Sammons Oil Co., a petroleum and lube oil marketing business out of Riverton. Hes an avid horseman who spends a good deal of time riding and packing into Wyomings roadless backcountry. From 2001 to 2003, he was chairman of the group Backcountry Horsemen of America. Today, he is the public lands chairman of the group, representing the Wind River and Shoshone chapters of Backcountry Horsemen. Hes an avid big-game hunter and carries a Wyoming Pioneer fishing and hunting license.
Harry Harju is a retired Wyoming Game and Fish Department biologist, where he worked on endangered species, reviewed management recommendations and proposals for hunting seasons. He has hunted, fished and camped in Wyomings backcountry for 37 years.
George Hunker is an outfitter and fly fishing guide in the Wind River backcountry for almost 30 years. He operates Sweetwater Fishing Expeditions Lander. He is the past president of his local Trout Unlimited chapter, and hes devoted more than 35 years to hunting and fishing in Wyomings backcountry.
Dave Glenn is currently the Rocky Mountain director of the National Outdoor Leadership School in Lander, and has worked as a fishing and hunting guide all over the West and in Alaska. Hes chairman of the Wyoming chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers and spends about 40 days a year hunting Wyomings backcountry.