Protecting the Red Desert

Aug 11, 2018
Wyoming's Red Desert is a remarkable landscape that spans the Great Divide Basin, includes thousands of acres of potential wilderness, and significant wildlife habitats and cultural areas. The majority of the Red Desert is public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The agency is currently rewriting the land-use plan for the region, which will establish management guidance for the next 15-20 years for much of this special place. Our partners are advocating protections be added to this plan to ensure wild lands in the Northern Red Desert and the Red Desert's Adobe Town area are protected from energy development, road proliferation, and mining.
The Northern Red Desert contains nine wilderness study areas (WSAs) and thousands of acres of other wilderness quality lands. One of the most striking WSAs from the air is the Oregon Buttes, which tower above the desert floor. Springs along the flanks of these buttes provide refuge for desert elk, mule deer, and other wildlife species. Just north of the Oregon Buttes, the Continental Divide splits into two divides-one heads south down the Jack Morrow Hills and the other heads east towards the Ferris Mountains. This rare split in the Divide creates the Great Divide Basin, where precipitation becomes groundwater, evaporates or is used-but does not enter a drainage that ends in the Pacific or Atlantic Oceans. West of the Oregon Buttes lies South Pass, where American Indian trails adopted by European American emigrants to get to Oregon, California, and Utah cross the Continental Divide. Sage-grouse, coyotes, mule deer, pronghorn, free-roaming horses, golden eagles, a rare desert elk herd, and peregrine falcons all make their home in and around the Oregon Buttes.
South of the Buttes rises the Boar's Tusk, the remnant of an ancient plugged volcano, and a prominent landmark above the beginning swells of the longest active sand dune complex in the U.S. Dunes that start just outside of Farson, Wyoming, stretch across the state.
From the Oregon Buttes to Boar's Tusk, and east to the empty expanse of the Great Divide Basin, Wyoming's Red Desert contains countless opportunities for solitude, adventure, and exploration. Towering buttes, endless dunes, and maze-like badlands draw in visitors and desert wildlife alike. This rare landscape is worth protecting and EcoFlight is proud to help these advocacy efforts to keep wild places in the Desert undeveloped.