I often get asked how exactly our small statewide team, Wyoming Wilderness Association, upholds our mission of protecting Wyoming’s public wildlands. And often over a cup of coffee, I get the chance to go into great detail about all the programs, events and ways that we advocate during land management planning processes. But one of the other ways that protecting our wild country is actually carried out is through you, our volunteers.
WWA has partnered with Sheridan’s local, state and federal agencies and partnering organizations for the last decade recruiting our members, local youth and the greater community to volunteer on projects that preserve our public lands’ resources. Past projects have included: fence removal, TRAC (trail) surveys, cave graffiti removal, trail restoration and clean-ups. But this summer, we have also added a Wilderness Stewardship Performance Project: carrying out Wilderness Rapid Campsite Assessments in the Cloud Peak Wilderness is the project focus on the Bighorns. This is an exciting expansion of the solitude monitoring pilot program we ran last summer in the Gros Ventre Wilderness on the Bridger-Teton National Forest.
Are you planning a backpack trip or a day hike into Cloud Peak Wilderness this summer? Help us gather data while you are out there. Data collection won’t take much extra time and it could be a great excuse to take extra breaks from that heavy backpack. Plus, the 189,000 acres is a big area to cover. Many hands, actually feet in this case, make for light work — or something like that. You get the idea.
Attend one of our trainings with Wilderness Watch or sign your backpacking party up for a small group training. We will be learning the minimum recreation site monitoring protocol and how to use the app (Survey 123) to gather data. This tool will help provide a consistent process for the overall monitoring of recreation sites in Wilderness areas. Volunteers will learn how to independently assess 1. ground cover disturbance of the main campsite, 2. impact to standing trees and roots, and 3. size of disturbed area — including satellite tent pads and stock-holding areas — and how to input data into the app.
But before you head out into the wilderness, do you own a pair of leather gloves that need broken in through the means of rolling up barbwire fence? Well, the WWA staff has once again teamed up with Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers and HF Bar Ranch to continue our efforts in safely removing up to 14 miles of downed barbwire fence on the Bud Love Wildlife Habitat Management Unit. Volunteers will be directly next to the Rock Creek Recommended Wilderness area and get to log about three miles of hiking as an added bonus. So if you are free next Saturday ...
As our area gains in popularity amongst recreationists of all types, we need to make sure we are educating and engaging with ways to keep these areas wild. Sign up and join us in these collective efforts. To learn more, visit our website or give us a call.
Khale Century Reno is executive director of the Wyoming Wilderness Association.