Tell Park County: Consensus the best option for managing wild lands east of Yellowstone

A Wyoming county may be moving forward with an unbalanced proposal for critical wild lands east of Yellowstone, without consensus or agreement from local partners like us who have a stake in these lands. Here’s your chance to tell them today that this isn’t the right step forward.

I’m disappointed that I recently wasn’t able to support Park County’s proposal for these lands. The county’s Advisory Committee last week took a rushed, forced vote on a draft proposal that doesn’t respect the collaborative, grassroots approach we all committed to when I signed on to work with this county in 2016.

McCullough Peaks, east of Yellowstone in Park County, Wyoming. (Photo BLM.)

McCullough Peaks, east of Yellowstone in Park County, Wyoming. (Photo BLM.)

My desire to participate in this group was to work with my neighbors to see if we couldn’t do better for these lands than the status quo, which right now is Wilderness Study Area (WSA) status for two critical Park County landscapes: the snowy high country of High Lakes and the desert badlands of McCullough Peaks. I did my best. I spent about half my time this past year trying to find success for my neighbors’ interests, as well as mine, which was to gain protections for these lands in Greater Yellowstone.

Despite months of work that included tough conversations, field visits and debating options for these WSAs, the commissioners forced our committee into a corner and demanded a vote on a draft proposal that we could not support. The proposal didn’t serve our conservation interests – there weren’t enough protections for the long-term naturalness and wildness of these lands.

Please tell the County Commission today to give the Wyoming Public Lands Initiative a chance, and to give the collaborative approach the time and space it needs to succeed. And if you’re in the area, please consider attending either the Wilderness Study Areas Public Meeting in Powell on April 25 (Heart Mountain Hall, Park County Fairgrounds, 665 East 5th Street), in Cody on April 26 (Cody Clubroom, 1240 Beck Avenue), and share your thoughts in person with the county commission.

Thank you so much for supporting our challenging work as we continue to work with people and stand up for Greater Yellowstone’s lands, wildlife, and waters.

-- Jenny DeSarro, Wyoming Conservation Associate