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The Wyoming Range, Wyoming's Hidden Gem

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Tags: WLCI Agency Report

The Wyoming Range is one of Wyoming's unsung natural gems. In addition to alpine scenery and exceptional recreational opportunities, this 150-mile range provides important wildlife habitat in the southern reaches of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Prized herds of big game, populations of native cutthroat trout, threatened predators, and rare bird species rely on the Wyoming Range’s forested highlands, sage- covered foothills and pure water for survival. These lands also support a traditional ranching lifestyle on the open range. While tourist crowds descend on nearby National Parks and Wilderness areas, these mountains provide places for local residents to explore, hunt and fish.

But more and more these days, as demand for natural gas keeps rising, the energy industry is crossing paths with America’s natural treasures in the Rocky Mountain West. Special out-of-the-way places, such as the Wyoming Range, are increasingly in the crosshairs. Energy companies are pressuring federal land managers to lease and drill parts of this range, though finding natural gas riches here is doubtful. In the rush to drill, priceless natural values can be easily overlooked.

Wyoming Range: Wyoming’s Hidden Gem is our attempt to recognize values that don’t fit neatly into cost-benefit tables: free-roaming big game, native trout, healthy forests, pure water, alpine scenery andsolitude. This report tells the story of the Wyoming Range from the perspectives of those who know it well, people such as outfitter Sam Young, mountaineer Thomas Turiano, Pinedale angler Sam Sharp, big game biologist Scott Smith, and former Sublette County Commissioner Gordon Johnston.

As this report makes clear, the Wyoming Range’s real treasure is the landscape itself, something residents and visitors to this magnificent range stand to lose if major energy development happens here. Our vision for the Wyoming Range is to keep intact the traditional uses–the ranching, outfitting, education and recreation activities–that currently occur in this wild country and help sustain local communities.

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