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Wally Johnson

Wally Johnson

Residents of Wyoming are proud of our heritage, including wildlife and open, intact spaces that make our state unique. To protect this heritage, Wyoming residents want to know their voices are being heard and their comments make a difference.

This sentiment is especially true in Sweetwater County, which has approximately 7,000 square miles of Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service lands. These public lands are managed for multiple use and provide outstanding opportunities for recreation, including sightseeing, camping, hunting and fishing. One of the most outstanding public land outdoor recreation areas is Little Mountain.

For generations, Little Mountain has provided our county’s residents with high-quality hunting and fishing experiences. Little Mountain’s trophy elk and mule deer and native cutthroat trout attract sportsmen and sportswomen from across the country to support our local outfitters and outdoors businesses. In fact, over the past five years alone, hunting and fishing have greatly contributed to our county’s economy. These economic contributions are extremely important especially as we grapple with the impact of declining oil and gas prices.

I recently had the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., to meet with our congressional delegation and officials from BLM. I expressed my sentiments about Little Mountain and how special it is to elected officials, sportsmen and women, recreationists and others in our local community. I told them Sweetwater County is coming together to protect Little Mountain, because we, too, realize this is one place where we must strike the right balance between maintaining access to first class wildlife and fishery habitats while at the same time allowing for responsible oil and gas development.

Currently, the BLM is working on updating the Resource Management Plan for the Rock Springs Field Office. It is my understanding that the RMP update proposes to include a Master Leasing Plan for Little Mountain. This Master Leasing Plan will strive to balance needs of wildlife, fish and their habitats, while at the same time examine opportunities for industry to develop oil and gas resources in the right places.

In addition, the Master Leasing Plan process will provide opportunities for all residents and stakeholders to express their concerns and be a part of a process that will shape the future management of the Greater Little Mountain region of Sweetwater County. This transparent and open public input approach is one that I can support and that we can all get behind.

There’s still a lot of work to be done on the BLM Rock Springs Resource Management Plan and on the Little Mountain Master Leasing Plan. I am optimistic that if we all work together in a transparent process, we can create a long-term plan that balances environmental and development concerns and keep Little Mountain a special place for generations to come.

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Wally Johnson lives in Green River and serves as Chairman of the Sweetwater County Commission. This is his personal opinion and is not meant to represent the commission as a whole.

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