Three Wyoming counties recently opted out of a collaborative process allowing local stakeholders to partake in land management decisions surrounding wilderness study areas. NOLS Rocky Mountain Assistant Director Andy Blair commented that lifting protections in these areas and opening up them to energy development would disrupt student experiences in valuable wilderness classrooms.
“In 2014, the Wyoming Public Lands Initiative assembled committees in eight counties with wilderness study areas, in hopes of getting consensus on how to manage those lands going forward, but three counties have now opted out. Lincoln, Bighorn and Sweetwater Counties are joining a bill recently introduced in Congress by U.S. Representative Liz Cheney that would lift protections on wilderness study areas without getting buy-in from local stakeholders…
Andy Blair is the assistant director of NOLS, the national outdoor leadership school in Lander. He said NOLS takes kids on expeditions trips into Oregon Buttes and the Pinnacles in Sweetwater County and would hate to see those areas impacted by large amounts of energy development.
‘They pack up their rations on the back of horses and camp out in the desert," Blair said, "going from spring to spring, eating the grass out there, seeing the big open skies and wild landscapes. It's pretty beautiful.’”