Q&A on the Wyoming Public Lands Initiative and AMPL
Q: What is the Wyoming Public Lands Initiative?
A: The Wyoming Public Lands Initiative (WPLI) is a collaborative, county-led process intended to result in one, state-wide legislative lands package that is broadly supported by public lands stakeholders in Wyoming. The ultimate goal is final designation or release of Wyoming’s 42 Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and 3 U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) in Wyoming.
Q: How did the Teton County Wyoming Public Lands Initiative start and who is in charge?
A: In the fall of 2016 the Teton County Commissioners established the Teton County Wyoming Public Lands Initiative (WPLI) board. The primary purpose of the WPLI board is to make a recommendation to the county on what should happen to the 166,790 acres of public lands in the Palisades and Shoal Creek areas in Wyoming (83,399 Teton county, 62,637 in Lincoln county and 20,754 in Sublette county). Options include everything from recommending these areas be designated Wilderness to removing the Wilderness Study Area designation and allowing these areas to go back to their original multi-use designation.
The WPLI committee is made up of 21 representatives that represent eight separate interest groups such as winter motorized sports, summer motorized sports, commercial, mountain-biking, agriculture, etc.
Q: What are the public lands in our area that are under consideration for a change of use designation?
A: There are two WSAs that are specifically under consideration for a change of use designation (although other public lands can also be considered for additional use restrictions):
Palisade Wilderness Study Area reaches from Alpine, WY to Teton Pass, WY. The area is accessed by four separate counties in two states. Counties included are Teton WY, Lincoln WY, Teton ID, and Bonneville ID. This area is about 134,417 acres.
Shoal Creek Wilderness Study Area is located in Bondurant, Wyoming and is roughly 32,373 acres. Combined, these areas provide us with 166,790 acres of snowmobiling, dirt biking, mountain biking, hunting, camping, hiking, heli-skiing, firewood gathering and other uses to the public.
Q: What would a Wilderness designation mean for recreation in the Shoal Creek or Palisades Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs)?
A: Generally, a Wilderness designation prohibits “motorized or mechanical entry” to the area. That means no cars, trucks, offroad or all-terrain vehicles, bicycles, aircraft, or motorboats. Per federal law, dirt biking, mountain biking, snowmobiling, heli skiing, ATVs and UTVs, in addition to harvesting Christmas trees and collecting firewood would no longer be permissible uses of public land in designated Wilderness areas. Even hunting, fishing or camping that involves packing in with a “motorized or mechanical” means of transportation would be banned.
Q: What is AMPL?
A: Advocates for Multi-Use of Public Lands (AMPL) was founded to help support our community’s ability to continue recreating in the Palisades and Shoal Creek areas, which are both currently Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs). Our board and ambassadors, like many Teton, Lincoln and Sublette County residents, regularly navigate these areas to mountain bike, hike, hunt, fish, camp, gather firewood, harvest Christmas trees, snowmobile and dirt bike.
Q: How does AMPL fit into the WPLI process?
A: Right now the Teton and Sublette County WPLI boards are collecting public comment on Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) and debating the appropriate uses for public lands in our region. We need the public to speak up and inform our representatives (including members of the county WPLI board, county commissioners, and federal delegation) about how we want to use these lands! AMPL is working hard to launch a comprehensive community outreach plan that involves digital, social, local events and grassroots education with a goal of collecting over 1,000 public comments on the study areas in our region.
Have more questions? Feel free to reach out to AMPL at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the WPLI process, stakeholder insights and recreation values, check out:
Explains and introduces the Teton County WPLI committee and their purpose.
Explains and introduces the Sublette County WPLI committee and their purpose.
Hub for the Wyoming Public Lands Initiative at the state level.