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Feds propose extending minerals extraction ban on bighorn habitat
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Feds propose extending minerals extraction ban on bighorn habitat

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LANDER -- Federal officials will meet in Dubois next week to discuss extending the withdrawal of Bureau of Land Management mineral estate within an important bighorn sheep management area.

Officials said a Public Land Order that established the Whiskey Mountain Bighorn Sheep Locatable Mineral Withdrawal will expire soon unless it is extended.

In September 1990, the secretary of the interior withdrew 9,610 acres of BLM and federal minerals on private lands from mineral location and entry within the Whiskey Mountain Wildlife Habitat Management Area.

BLM officials said approximately 1,000 bighorn sheep utilize the area as winter range.

The Whiskey Mountain bighorn herd has been a crown jewel among Wyoming wildlife for more than 50 years. The high-profile bighorn herd is also one of Dubois' main tourist attractions.

The BLM, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and the U.S. Forest Service have been coordinating the management of the Whiskey Mountain WHMA since 1969.

The agencies have jointly developed management strategies and habitat activities designed to provide longterm protection to bighorn sheep and crucial wildlife habitat in the area. The activities include the locatable mineral withdrawal within key habitat.

BLM spokeswoman Sarah Beckwith said the bighorn sheep population and associated habitat draw thousands of people annually, including sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts who can hunt and view bighorn sheep and other wildlife in their natural surroundings.

She said the public meeting is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. June 15 at the Headwaters Art and Conference Center in Dubois.

The agency is seeking public comments on the proposed extension through July 15.

The proposed extension would last 20 years.

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