RAWLINS DAILY TIMES 8-8-17 WSA committee wraps up busy week

Aug 8, 2017

Wilderness Study Area Committee wraps up a busy week


Carbon County Wyoming Public Lands Initiative committee member Leanne Correll takes photos of the Bennett and Ferris Mountains during a flight. The committee will discuss their findings August 28 at the Carbon County Higher Education Center.


RAWLINS —Carbon County Wyoming Public Lands Initiative committee members have a lot to discuss after visiting three of the county’s wildlife study areas during the week.The committee, made up of 11 Carbon County residents was formed during the fall of 2016 with hopes of presenting the Count Commissioners with recommendations of what the county should do with Prospect Mountain, the Bennett Mountains, the Ferris Mountains and Encampment River Canyon.Beginning their travel last Monday, several of the committee members visited Prospect Mountain south of Encampment by four wheelers before taking 40-minute flights around the Bennett and Ferris mountains August 2.“There is a lot more out there than people realize and the actual Wilderness Study Areas were amazing to see from the air,” Joe Parson said of the flight. “When you drive the highway over by Muddy Gap you look over and see it but you really do not get a sense how big it actually is until you are actually flying over and getting a bird’s eye view of the locations. “During each flight Wednesday, a small group of committee members took a variety of photos and talked on their microphones about some of the elements pertaining to the areas including the different landscapes and road availability.In similar fashion some of the committee members took notes and photos of Prospect Mountain, but then also had a meeting at the Riverside Town Hall, following their ground trip about some of the issues facing the Wilderness Study Area.“One of the things that we talked about was the limitation that BLM has in maintaining (Prospect Mountain road) that is right by the WSA,” Committee member Leanne Correll said. “Talking about it, discussing would be an option to actually move the boundary over a little bit, because right now as you get down towards the bottom as the trees are falling the BLM is not able to push the trees up the hill because that is in the WSA whereas down the hill is a creek.”Correll said without making a way for workers to clear the road that the area, economically would be at a loss.“It is an economic factor. We have a lot of tourism in the valley there and we have a lot of people that fish. Accessibility for the Blue Ribbon Stream there on the North Platte is just limited and it cuts off one more thing if they do not have that road.Receiving feedback during the week, Correll said one adjacent landowner went on the tour as well and told the committee they were in favor of keeping it at the wilderness level and not releasing it for everything.Although the group did not discuss the flight together, the board members plan to review the trip as well as further review of the other sites in a public meeting at 9 a.m. Aug. 28 at the Carbon County Higher Education Center, 812 E Murray St. in Rawlins.“What we want to do is collect more information from interested groups,” Jeff Streeter said. “From the adjacent land owners to permittees. It is a long process and a very important process. This is not something we want to jump to conclusions on and I think the public and the community members must realize that nobody is going to get everything they want.”The county process is expected to take a year before it moves to the state level. Eventually the recommendations will be mixed into a new federal law that will govern Wyoming’s 42 BLM sites and the three National Forest Wilderness Study Areas.“We will be concise and make some recommendations on future protection and uses of these lands of Carbon County,” Streeter said. “Then other participating counties will do the same. We will bundle that and it goes to the Wyoming County Commissioners Association for review. Hopefully at that point it goes to Congress and Congress will act on it.The entire process could take as long as 5-10 years.For more information on the process visit http://www.wyo-wcca.org/index.php/mo-map/wpli.