Lone horse grazing in a mountain pasture

Wyoming officials critical of BLM's plans for Rock Springs

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Chris Woodward

(The Center Square) – Wyoming's top elected officials are criticizing the federal government's proposed management plan for Rock Springs in the southwestern part of the state.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management's resource management plan would designate 1.8 million of the 3.6 million acres of surface land that the Rock Springs Field Office manages as "Areas of Critical Environmental Concern," which the bureau defines as "areas where special management attention is needed to protect important historical, cultural, and scenic values, or fish and wildlife or other natural resources."

The BLM said in the announcement Thursday that "the plan is comprehensive and will resolve and address issues within the RSFO jurisdictional boundaries which are identified through agency, interagency and public scoping efforts."

"The BLM strives for a balance of opportunities to use and develop BLM-administered resources within the planning area, while promoting environmental conservation," the statement continued.

Governor Mark Gordon expressed disappointment with BLM's draft plan in a news release.

“Upon first glance, I am extremely disappointed, yet not surprised, by the redirection this Administration is taking with this draft,” he said. “Over a decade’s worth of work from Wyoming’s cooperating agencies, local stakeholders, and impacted industries seems to have fallen on the deaf ears of the federal BLM and its imperious agenda.”

“I know I am not alone in my desire to review this draft with a fine-tooth comb,” Gordon added. “I will protect the interests of the State of Wyoming and make sure they pay attention to the good work being done at the state and local level as we move ahead.”

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., called the proposal a "blatant land grab" in a statement.

"The Biden administration continues to attack our Wyoming way of life," he said. "The latest hit job from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) aims to take control of 1.8 million acres of land in Wyoming. This blatant land grab completely dismisses practical solutions proposed by local land managers, local agencies and the people who live and work on this land."

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., said in the same statement that the plan "willfully ignores more than a decade of thoughtful systems designed by local experts and Wyoming-based stakeholders at our state’s expense."

A 90-day comment period will end November 16, 2023. 

"There is still time for us to force the BLM to turn this outrageous proposal around and strike a balanced approach that puts Wyoming, not Washington, in the driver’s seat," Barrasso added.