It’s no secret that Wyoming residents and visitors from all over the world love the Bridger-Teton National Forest. At over 3.4-million acres, this wild, working landscape of forests, wildflower-filled meadows, winding rivers, and steep glaciated peaks provides essential habitat for eight species of big game. Elk, mule deer, moose, whitetail deer, bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope, mountain goat and bison live in the scree fields, forests and river valleys. It’s habitat that includes the longest-known mule deer migration in the world: a nearly 250-mile one-way journey called the Red Desert to Hoback migration. Grizzlies, wolves and even elusive wolverines can still be found here. Anglers pursue all four of Wyoming’s native cutthroat trout species in the streams of the Bridger-Teton National Forest, along with other sport fishing opportunities across the region’s numerous lakes and waterways.
The Bridger-Teton is also an important working landscape. For over 100 years, stock growers have summered cattle in the lush meadows of the upper Green River. In the fall, these herds “drift” back south to home pastures along well-worn travel routes. Year-round outdoor recreation, from snowmobiling and backcountry skiing to mountain biking, backpacking and four-wheeling facilitates the exploration of this cherished landscape.
As an outdoorsman, I look forward to venturing into the BTNF each fall with a bow or rifle to pursue elk and deer. The solitude and connection to the natural world I’ve found while rambling around remote drainages in the Palisades, Gros Ventre Mountains and Wyoming Range are priceless memories that will last a lifetime.
There are many reasons to love the BTNF, and it’s my hope that future generations can experience one of the wildest landscapes in the Lower 48 states just as I have. That’s why it’s critical to participate in the upcoming process the U.S. Forest Service is initiating to revise the management of the forest. The forest is currently compiling a draft assessment report, which outlines the current “state of the forest.” Once completed, this information will be used, along with public participation, to draft much-needed revisions to the forest plan.
It’s been over 30 years since the Bridger-Teton forest plan was last revised. In that time our understanding of the ecological processes occurring in this landscape, along with how we seek to use this incredible resource, has changed dramatically. In fact, according to the agency, a focus on ecosystems is a key change emerging in forest planning. Forest plan revisions entail long, multiyear processes, but they only come around once every few decades. This is our opportunity to shape how this invaluable landscape is managed for decades to come.
Want to add your voice to the conversation? Contact me at email@example.com. Or learn more about the forest planning process here.