To the editor:

I know it is never a good thing to get in a journalistic writing contest with a man who buys his ink by the barrel, so said Mark Twain. But here goes. I believe your recent editorial about the Shoshone National Forest (SNF) Travel Plan completely missed the point.

The SNF is the most remote and wildest national forest left in the United States. It harbors stellar populations of elk, bear, deer and sheep, and rare species like the lynx and wolverine. This is so because the Forest is largely roadless.

That is why so many Park County residents have horses and mules, so we can access the wild country. That is why we have a thriving outfitting and guiding industry. There is more stock in Park County than in any county in Wyoming, except for Fremont.

Many of us like it that way. We like to practice the ancient skills of packing and backcountry camping. It is part of our heritage, part of our culture. Ever growing numbers of people are coming here to experience the wilderness as well. It is unique, it is rare.

Most national forest lands in Wyoming are open to OHVs. Areas like the Bighorn National Forest, the Bear Lodge, Laramie Peak and Sierra Madre districts of other national forests in the state are wide open to OHV use. There are more than 10,000 miles of two-track roads on BLM lands in the Big Horn Basin alone. And that is fine.

But most of this forest is for us: the hiker, backpacker, horse and mule packer, backcountry hunter and angler, outfitters and guides, you know people who like to do things the hard way, the quiet way. Don’t sell us short, we matter too.


(s) Barry Reiswig

Vice Chair, Wyoming Back Country Horsemen


(1) comment

Keith Dahlem

To much Wilderness and not enough roads, the Shoshone National Forest is a dead Forest it all started with the Wilderness Act of 1964, and five years later the Forest Service said forests and sawmills were not compatible. The 2008 Gun Barrel Fire burned over 30 lineal miles,at a cost of over $15 million, and an additional cost of $2 Million (cost to the Forest Service) of a Historic Lodge, which had been acquired in a lawsuit they lost because they failed to maintain the road and bridges to the lodge in which they the Forest Service were contractually obligated to do. The lodge and all of the beautiful cabins were burned to the ground because the Forest Service failed to maintain clear space, such as cutting the grass, weed eating around all of the buildings, and all other normal maintenance items that a responsible owner would not fail to complete. We the public have lost miles of motorized access on the Shoshone National Forest over the years, a little bit at a time especially on the Wapiti District, just like the Frog in the pot of boiling water. Even worse than the fire itself is the result of all of silt that comes off the burned areas from mile post 6 to mile post 36 US 14, 16, & 20 that flows into the Shoshone River and flows downstream to irrigation systems with most of it ending up in the Buffalo Bill Reservoir and other reservoirs further along. So if you want to pack your firewood out on your mule after you have sawed and blocked it with a cross cut or swede saw to heat your house for the winter or import the lumber to build your shelter, wilderness is your model. Multiple use was and still is much better.

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