This year, Wyomingites celebrated their first Wyoming Public Lands day! The Greater Yellowstone Coalition’s Cody Field Office curated a Wyoming Public Lands Day volunteer event at a unique parcel of public land commonly known as Beartooth Ranch or sometimes “the drug ranch.” The Beartooth Ranch harbors pristine wildlife habitat and access to blue-ribbon fishing.
The Beartooth Ranch Committee and their partners have worked to install two picnic shelters along the Clarks Fork River where anglers, boaters, birders, picnickers, and others can stop to eat lunch. To help reduce potential human and wildlife conflict, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition donated bear boxes to be placed at each shelter location. During the public land’s day event members from the Park County Weed and Pest, the Beartooth Ranch Committee, and Cody community including members of Trout Unlimited and the Greater Yellowstone Coalition installed two bear boxes, an invasive plant information sign outfitted with a boot brush, two microfilament (fishing line) recycle bins, and removed noxious weeds from the area.
The hard work of the public lands day volunteers will help keep bears wild and people safe by preventing human food rewards, reduce the spread of weeds through a boot scraper and create more space for native plants to grow by removal of noxious plants, and keep fishing line from being ingested or ensnaring wildlife. But beyond just the implementation of valuable infrastructure, Wyoming Public Lands Day created an opportunity for local agencies, organizations, and members from the community to connect with one another, working together to help keep public land ecosystems healthy that allow for better outdoor experiences.
The Greater Yellowstone Coalition is a part of a larger group comprised of other conservation and recreation organizations, hunting and angling groups, and businesses called ‘Keep it Public, Wyoming’ that lobbied the Public Lands Day bill for two years before it was passed– establishing Wyoming Public Lands Day as the fourth Saturday each September. The origin of ‘Keep it Public, Wyoming’ was in response to a threatening federal lands transfer amendment proposed in the Wyoming State Legislature, which was successfully defeated.
Public Lands Day is a “tribute to the importance of public lands in the state, to acknowledge the multiple use of public lands and in recognition of the value of public lands to the state’s economy, open spaces, diversity of mineral, grazing and forestry resources, wildlife and recreational opportunities…(enrolled act no109; 2019)”
Thank you for all that you do for Greater Yellowstone!
— Emily Reed, Wyoming Conservation Associate