Wyoming sportsmen hail OK of first master leasing plan

Hunters, anglers reject assault on balanced energy development and the public’s right to speak out on decisions affecting their lands

06-26-2014 // Judith Kohler

ElkThe Wyoming Wildlife Federation and the National Wildlife Federation applaud the final approval of a new management plan for public lands in central Wyoming and the first-ever federal master leasing plan, which will help protect the area’s rich fish and wildlife resources.

State and federal officials on Thursday released the new Lander Resource Management Plan, which covers about 2.4 million acres of public lands and includes important winter range for elk, deer and greater sage-grouse. The document includes the Bureau of Land Management’s first final master leasing plan, a critical component of the Interior Department’s 2010 oil and gas leasing reforms.

Wyoming hunters and anglers welcomed the inclusion of the Beaver Rim Master Leasing Plan, which they said will permit responsible energy development while safeguarding fish and wildlife as well as hunting, fishing and recreation opportunities.

"As a Lander resident and sportsman, I’m thrilled that the first finalized master leasing plan is going to be implemented in our proverbial backyard. In providing greater certainty for industry and greater protections for wildlife, this management tool will benefit both our local economy and our recreational opportunities," said Matt Copeland, the National Wildlife Federation’s organizer in Wyoming.

Master leasing plans, or MLPs, are intended as a landscape-level, comprehensive assessment of an area where minerals and important fish, wildlife and other natural resources overlap. The goal is to resolve potential conflicts and find ways to avoid harm before leasing occurs.

Beaver Rim, a few miles east of Lander, affords some of Wyoming’s most celebrated views, including the Wind River Mountains and the colorful Red Canyon. The nearly 151,000-acre area has become a top destination for sportsmen and women, hikers, mountain bikers and a vital part of the local economy.

"And now Beaver Rim is a great opportunity to show how effective MLPs can be at planning for and addressing potential resource conflicts before they arise," said Joy Bannon, the Wyoming Wildlife Federation’s field director. "Hopefully the example set here will help give rise to forward thinking, win-win, stakeholder-driven solutions in places like Little Mountain and North Park."

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