9 simple reminders so we can all enjoy them together
Our public lands are a treasure enjoyed by many in the western states. Everything from hiking, camping, fishing, horseback riding, ATV riding, shooting sports, wildlife viewing, livestock grazing, energy development, logging and much more are all equally important aspects of these lands. Here is a short overview of important information you will need to know to enjoy your time on public lands in Wyoming.
Publiclands.org is a great place to start, and this link will take you straight to an interactive map of Wyoming. Here you can find picnic areas, campgrounds, access areas, and so much more. The various map icons show National Forest, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and more. Zoom in and out on the map to get a closer look at each area you are interested in.
Now that you have an idea of the vast public lands there are to visit in Wyoming, let’s talk Public Land Courtesy. Well, maybe there is nothing so official, but we can all do a large part in being good stewards of the lands we, the public, own.
- Stay on the established roads and do not drive on roads that have been marked as closed. Every new set of tire treads leaves one more mark on the soil and vegetation that grows there. Keep it to a minimum to do your part in conserving the land for your kids and grandkids.
- Avoid making ruts in the mud. While mudding can be a fun past-time, it can be very destructive to our rangelands. Each time a deep set of ruts is made, people driving on the road tend to go around (see rule #1).
- Pack it in. Pack it out. Better yet, leave it nicer than you found it. Take a garbage bag and pick up anything that may have been left by others or blown in by the wind. This not only keeps it looking nice, but keeps wildlife and grazing animals safe.
- Stay on established trails when hiking. The same principle applies here as Rule #1.
- Be aware of others in your area. Many times it may seem like you are the only person in the world when you visit public lands, and indeed many people enjoy this solitude. However, you have to remember that you can run into anyone at any time. Especially when using firearms, be considerate of your backdrop and ensure no one is inadvertently in your line of fire.
- Do not disturb the wildlife. Let’s face fact, we all like to vacation in their home. Wildlife viewing is a wonderful past-time, and something that is highly encouraged, especially if you have kids. Be respectful, watch and photograph from a distance, and let wildlife feel comfortable in their own home.
- Fires-DEAD OUT! We all know how devastating wildfires can be. If you decide to have a fire, make sure it is completely out. A good way to test it is to make sure everything is cool to the touch. Stir the ashes to make sure no live embers are laying down there waiting for a wind gust to send them into a wildfire.
- Horses have the right-of-way. If you are hiking, biking, or riding an ATV on a trail and come upon someone who is horseback, the horse has the right-of-way. The best practice is to move to the side of the trail and say hello to the rider. Start a casual conversation with the rider (just, “Hi, how’s your day?” is sufficient here). This helps the horse identify the strange thing in the trail as a human with a backpack (or bike, or ATV, etc.) They will generally then pass by with little drama from anyone.
- Share. Really no explanation needed here. Public lands do not belong to each of us individually, but to the public as a collective group. Understand that we have agencies in place to help regulate us humans because we cannot manage to share on our own. These people are there to manage and protect that land so that we may all enjoy them for generations.
Spring is here! Get out there and enjoy what nature has to offer us!!