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Wyoming Pathways Board Member Selected to Wyoming Public Lands Initiative Advisory Committee for Park County

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This past week, the Park County Board of County Commissioners selected their Wyoming Public Lands Initiative (WPLI) Advisory Committee members and Wyoming Pathways board member, John Gallagher, was selected as the Primary member for non-motorized recreation.  In this position, John will be able to provide his perspective and input as a long-time trail advocate to the Committee as it works toward developing recommendations on the disposition of the Wilderness Study Areas in Park County.

John-Gallagher-newsWhen asked why he wanted to become a Committee member, John stated “These lands have been in limbo far too long and I am eager to see some conclusion reached. I think the WPLI approach  will create a well balanced, citizen driven solution. I look forward to adding my voice to the process and to many interesting and vigorous discussions on the final disposition of these wonderful public places.”

The Committee is made up of Primary and alternate members are included under categories for county government, agriculture/ranching, conservation, energy, motorized recreation, and non-motorized recreation. In addition to the mentioned interest categories, four members and associated alternates from the general public were selected to sit on the Committee.  The list of members can be found here: http://www.wyo-wcca.org/~wcca/files/3114/6239/3442/WPLI_committee_final_050316.pdf. Details regarding the Advisory Committee’s first meeting will be forthcoming.

The core goal of the Wyoming Public Lands Initiative (WPLI) is to develop a locally-led, Wyoming-specific, legislative lands package to address designation, release, or other management for Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) in Wyoming. The WPLI is a voluntary project initiated and led at the county level that will culminate in legislation forwarded to Wyoming’s Congressional delegation. If a county chooses to participate in the WPLI, that county’s Board of County Commissioners agrees to be bound by the WPLI Principles & Guidelines document. While the WPLI is intended to allow for flexibility at the county or multi-county level in the development of final recommendations for legislative text, process integrity and stakeholder inclusion is critical to a successful conclusion.

The Federal Lands Policy and Management Act of 1976 required that federal lands be inventoried for areas with “wilderness characteristics.” After identifying these “study areas”, the law dictated that the Department of Interior issue a report recommending the study areas either for designation as wilderness, or for release to a multiple use mandate. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Wyoming issued its Wyoming report in 1991, recommending that of the state’s 577,504 acres of WSAs, 337,140 acres should be released to multiple uses. Congress, with sole authority to declare wilderness or release these areas, has not acted on these recommendations, and they may no longer reflect the state of wilderness character nor accurately identify other resources or values within or adjacent to the 42 BLM WSAs. The last major lands package passed by Congress for Wyoming – the Wyoming Wilderness Act– was the product of locally driven efforts. Thirty-one years have elapsed since passage of that Act, and 24 years since the BLM first began managing Wyoming’s WSAs as de facto wilderness.

You can read more about the WPLI on the Wyoming County Commissioner’s Association website: http://www.wyo-wcca.org/~wcca/index.php/initiatives/wpli/wpli-faq/