It would be a colossal understatement to say the Bureau of Land Management’s long-awaited draft plan for managing 3.6 million acres of federal land in southwest Wyoming has been met with consternation.

In one of the more understated reviews offered by Wyoming elected officials, Gov. Mark Gordon called the 12-years-in-the-making resource management plan “Hamfisted … insincere and impractical.”

Far-right lawmakers didn’t mince words. 

Rep. Chip Neiman (R-Hulett) called the plan “an absolute, full-on effort to completely disallow the use of these lands.”

Rep. John Winter (R-Thermopolis) at the Wyoming Legislature’s 2023 general session. (Megan Lee Johnson/WyoFile)

Rep. John Winter (R-Thermopolis) said the plan would impose wilderness-like restrictions on most of the land and effectively lock out hunters.

Rep. John Bear (R-Gillette) said the plan would “take away the livelihood of hundreds of ranchers in the state of Wyoming. And it’s only going to expand from here.”

Rep. Bill Allemand (R-Midwest) said the RMP and associated Biden-administration conservation policies were “probably the biggest disaster in the history of the United States,” and would affect more people than “the Civil War, Pearl Harbor and 9/11 combined.” 

Winter, Bear and Allemand are all members of the hard-line Wyoming Freedom Caucus. During a Sept. 18 Freedom Caucus town hall broadcast on Facebook, Allemand went even further, saying that President Joe Biden’s goal to conserve at least 30% of U.S. land and waters by 2030 imposes more “tyranny and oppression than the colonists were under King George.” 

It’s the kind of material that makes for great headlines, political fundraisers and robust public engagement. 

According to BLM officials and the plan itself, however, such bombastic statements are both largely untrue and dangerous.

“Those are outrageous comments that I can’t believe anybody in the state of Wyoming would say,” Brad Purdy, the BLM’s deputy state director for communications and a third-generation military veteran, told WyoFile. 

“Tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of Americans died in those wars. We’re talking about a land-use plan — and a draft land-use plan at that,” he added. “Stuff like that should be shouted down from every corner of the state. That’s just so inappropriate.” 

“Stuff like that should be shouted down from every corner of the state.”

Brad Purdy

The extreme rhetoric perhaps isn’t surprising given the malcontent that’s mounting amid a flood of misinformation centered on the BLM’s draft EIS for land use in its Rock Springs Field Office. That plan, a dozen years in the making, guides the management of prized Wyoming landscapes managed in trust by the federal government for the American people, like the Red Desert and Greater Little Mountain area. The BLM’s “preferred” option, which is in line with the Biden administration’s goals and is conservation-oriented, has attracted political opponents at every level in Wyoming.

“This Rock Springs RMP will exclude, prohibit and bar all access, management and use of vast swaths of federal land throughout the United States,” U.S. House Rep. Harriet Hageman told BLM Deputy Director Michael Nedd during a recent congressional hearing. “You exclude not only oil and gas development, but livestock grazing and recreation.” 

The Bureau of Land Management began redoing its land-use plan for the Rock Springs Field Office, pictured, in 2011. A dozen years later there’s a draft plan on the table for the 3.6-million-acre region that’s ignited a fury in Wyoming. (BLM)

However, the allegation about impacts to recreation and grazing — echoed by Bear — isn’t true, though a few ranching operations could be affected. 

The most restrictive and “preferred” option identified in the draft environmental impact statement would make roughly 0.2% of the region — 8,576 acres of 3.6 million — unavailable for livestock grazing. The remaining 99.8% of the area, some 3.583 million acres, would continue to be leased to cattle ranchers and wool growers, according to the document. 

Many of the acres that would be withdrawn from domestic livestock grazing are located within the Red Creek Badlands, near where the states of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming come together. The grazing permittee that holds the Red Creek allotment hasn’t run livestock in the area voluntarily for about 27 years, according to Spencer Allred, the BLM district’s supervisory rangeland management specialist. Portions of two other more active allotments would be closed under the agency’s preferred alternative, he said. 

The Red Creek Badlands in southwestern Wyoming’s Little Mountain area, pictured, includes an 8,020-acre wilderness study area. (Mike Koshmrl/WyoFile)

“It absolutely would have an effect on the folks on the [other grazing allotments],” Allred said. “I don’t think it would be to the level of putting them out of business, but it would absolutely have an effect on how they operate.” 

Overstatements about the impacts of the BLM’s draft management plan have riled up not just politicians trying to score points, but some members of the public. Speaking from the Marbleton town hall at an open house-style public meeting Tuesday, BLM-Wyoming Rock Springs Field Office manager Kimberlee Foster said her staffers have been on the receiving end of menacing comments — though not necessarily about the plan itself. 

“There’s been some hateful comments, there’s been name calling, there’s been veiled threats,” Foster said. “It’s not really about specifics in the document, it’s more that anti-government thing, which we get a lot. The hate has been more political in nature.” 

Kimberlee Foster, BLM field manager for the Rock Springs office, in September 2023. (Mike Koshmrl/WyoFile)

Foster spoke Tuesday midway through a 3-to-6 p.m. meeting. There were only one or two members of the public still present by 4:30, though there was an orchestrated strong showing at the meeting’s onset — and even before it was scheduled to start. There were people waiting in the parking lot when the BLM officials arrived to set up their poster boards at 2:15 p.m., Foster said, and a line out the door by the meeting’s 3 p.m. start. 

Marbleton resident Pat Johnson was among the few members of the public who arrived at the meeting at the end of the business day. He came because of something he heard on the radio, though couldn’t recall the station. 

“I heard that they want to limit access to BLM land and they want to stop things like prospecting, hunting and motorized vehicles,” Johnson said. “That’s why I walked in here: I wanted to hear it from the horse’s mouth.” 

The BLM itself is the source of some of the misinformation, which in turn has fueled more misinformation. 

A Cowboy State Daily opinion column published Tuesday scolded the agency for misinforming the public about road closures proposed in the document. The BLM has maintained that its preferred draft land-use plan does not include expansive road closures, but nine times the document states that the agency’s preferred option would close 4,505 miles of routes and eliminate another 10,006 miles of undesignated, illegal routes. 

On Wednesday, BLM officials told WyoFile those numbers were included in the document in error. They were remnants from a travel management plan that was being developed in conjunction with the land-use plan, though was later scrapped, Foster said. 

The Killpecker Sand Dunes, located on Bureau of Land Management property north of Rock Springs, are part of the landscape that the BLM is assessing via a draft land-use plan. The conservation focus of the plan’s preferred option has not gone over well in Wyoming. (Mike Koshmrl/WyoFile)

“We need to fix that,” she said. “That was just an oversight on our part, that we didn’t pull out the impacts from what could have happened if that travel management plan was completed.” 

Misinformation swirling around the Rock Springs plan has fueled growing indignation. The Wyoming Freedom Caucus has used the BLM’s draft environmental impact statement as a fundraising cause, and within its messaging made false claims like saying the plan would prohibit “wildlife grazing, recreational use [and] agricultural and hunting activities.” 

The discussions have also turned toward radical measures, like attempting to take over federal lands in Wyoming. 

“We’re going to want to discuss the options that we have,” Bear said in the Facebook live video. “When we talk about that, one [option] will be obviously to try to move the lands out of the hands of the feds and into the state.” 

That’s a “long-term, very difficult plan,” Bear said. 

Neiman, the Wyoming Legislature’s House floor majority leader, recently said he and others in Wyoming have been in talks with members of the Utah Legislature trying to reignite the somewhat dormant Sagebrush Rebellion-esque movement to unravel the legacy of federal land ownership and management in the West. This alliance, he said, is looking “at what we can do to basically take these federal lands back into the states’ hands.” 

Rep. Chip Neiman (R-Hulett) at his ranch on the edge of the Bear Lodge Mountains in December 2022. (Mike Koshmrl/WyoFile)

The Wyoming Legislature’s attempts to force a takeover of federal land haven’t gone anywhere in the past. In 2015, the Legislature passed a bill requiring the Wyoming Office of State Lands and Investments to study whether it was feasible to manage 25 million acres of federal land. That federal land takeover was unlikely to result in a financial windfall for Wyoming, the study found

Comments on the draft EIS are due by Nov. 16, though many stakeholders have requested the Bureau of Land Management extend its deadline. Whether that happens is up to officials at BLM headquarters in Washington. On Wednesday, Gordon transmitted a letter requesting that the BLM withdraw the draft plan entirely. 

Correction: The percentage of the Rock Springs Field Office that would be unavailable to livestock grazing under the Bureau of Land Management’s preferred alternative was changed from 99.98% to 99.8%.  —Ed. 

Mike Koshmrl reports on Wyoming's wildlife and natural resources. Prior to joining WyoFile, he spent nearly a decade covering the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’s wild places and creatures for the Jackson...

Join the Conversation


Want to join the discussion? Fantastic, here are the ground rules: * Provide your full name — no pseudonyms. WyoFile stands behind everything we publish and expects commenters to do the same. * No personal attacks, profanity, discriminatory language or threats. Keep it clean, civil and on topic. *WyoFile does not fact check every comment but, when noticed, submissions containing clear misinformation, demonstrably false statements of fact or links to sites trafficking in such will not be posted. *Individual commenters are limited to three comments per story, including replies.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. I have been told that originally there were 4 plans (A, B, C, D) considered and worked on at the state level with Wyoming local people who were worked in these fields, I think they may have been local and state BLM. Well educated and knowledgeable people who knew the land and the people who lived and had for decades used these lands. This committee or group of people worked on this project something like 6 years. Then they submitted the plan they thought was the best to the Federal BLM. It was a plan that worked better with the local people of Wyoming and included conservation. It took in consideration the people who live in Wyoming and who will be impacted by this. Not the people who come and visit and like it here! By the way, how would you like us making decisions for your local towns, counties and states that we know only because we used to visit it. I’ve been to Louisiana so should I determine what should happen to those communities. I’ve been there several times, I have family and friends that live there so I have the right to determine what happens to their land use, really?????
    The Federal BLM people in Washington rejected the plan that was worked on and studied and developed by this group of individuals who knew the land far better than the Feds in Washington. They, the Feds in Washington instead have put forth a plan which is basically the ’30 30′ plan which had it origins in the United Nations plan and was like by and adopted by the current administration. The UN plan dated 30 or more years ago. So why didn’t the the Washington BLM approve the plan made by their own local and state BLM? What was wrong with that plan? Why didn’t they work with this group to come up with a more workable compromise that would have less of an impact on local areas? Why was this process and plan mentioned not mentioned in this article? Did you even realize this had happened? and PS I just have to say ….. HMMMM…. Biden is as innocent as Trump is guilty. It could be?

    1. her article was woefully misinformed, I dont think she even bothered to read any of the proposed decision, she simply sensationalized everything creating this hysteria.

  2. “Misinformation, hysteria”. I believe Mr. Koshmrl may have found the best definition of the Free Dumb caucus.

  3. Misinformation is also occurring as the author has an obvious bias and uses the headline to gain notoriety. Yes, there is some obvious misinformation but it is occurring on both sides. The author doesn’t acknowledge that as it doesn’t fit in with his viewpoint.

  4. “Far-right lawmakers didn’t mince words.”

    That doesn’t mean that the un-minced words they do spout are truthful, or accurate.

  5. I am so disappointed that Rep. Hageman is not performing a duty of our lone congressman to accurately inform her constituents. Is she following bad political guidance. She has a chance to correct the misinformation and help people participate in the comment portion of the process.

  6. BLM is run by the bureaucratic version of the Three Stooges. A state comms director that heightens bombastic talk likening any disagreement to the government as somehow anti-patriotic? (“Tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of Americans died in those wars…”).
    And frankly, what was the WyoFile point of including Purdy’s prior military service and that of his family’s? (“Brad Purdy, the BLM’s deputy state director for communications and a third-generation military veteran, told WyoFile.”) I’m an eight year veteran of the Marine Corps and I oppose BLM plans, but my service has ZERO to do with my opinion.
    The sloppy handling of this – and other BLM controversies in the Western US, is par for the course when hamfisted pencil pushers are allowed to run roughshod over locals. (“The BLM has maintained that its preferred draft land-use plan does not include expansive road closures, but nine times the document states that the agency’s preferred option would close 4,505 miles of routes and eliminate another 10,006 miles of undesignated, illegal routes.”)
    BLM supposedly has been working on this plan for more than a decade, but when it comes closer to fruition they exhibit the proofreading skills of a third grader. (“On Wednesday, BLM officials told WyoFile those numbers were included in the document in error.”) And voices here would tell us to trust the government. Nonsense. When the government has all the power it’s important to hold them accountable at every turn.

    1. Who can better manage the Land? Washington, DC. or the state is Wyoming? I am in Favor of the State with Proper oversight from the Wyoming Legislator as a whole, but beware of money changing hands, and bad land management deals that only “Favor” the few. Greed is NOT Need.

    2. I find it interesting that people expect perfection from government agencies when we as voters send some of the worst people to Congress to provide oversight.  In addition, there has been a historic turnover in government personnel as retirements have occurred with almost zero overlap of incoming personnel which inhibits passing on the organizational memory of these agencies.  Some have also argued that providing hiring preferences for veterans has degraded the competition for obtaining “more qualified” personnel.

      I produce a lot of reports for government agencies and many of these reports are recycling the same information with some changes based on the site specific characteristics.  Many reports produced are just change the names and locations but the overall report information is the same.  This is similar to the issue with the RMP as the requirements for that document are closely aligned with another plan the BLM is required to produce called the “Travel Management Plan” (TMP)

      I can see how the RMP and the TMP would end up with artifacts in each document, but there is nothing nefarious or unexpected in something called a Draft.  Here is some information on the TMP requirements and its close association with the RMP.

  7. First drafts always need work, especially when you have been immersed in a subject for years. Extra eyes are needed, so Public comments are welcome, and opinions backed up by data are critical to the decision making process. The tail-lit-on-fire response by the freedom chaos members lend nothing to the discussion. Go watch the hearing video at to get the whole story.

    1. and we also need to remember that these lands are for ALL of the American people, not just a select few Wyomingites.

  8. In a nation that managed to politicize the Covid 19 pandemic, I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise that federal attempts to improve land management in Wyoming are being treated as a political rather than an environmental and land protection issue. I realize that some people just do not like change of any kind, but the fact that BLM is belatedly trying to make up for past poor management decisions is a good thing. A lot of us, like myself, who lived in Wyoming for many years and visit frequently are part owners of the public lands in Wyoming and we are watching. We expect BLM to do what is best for the land, wildlife, rivers, and other natural resources and support the alternative that best does that.

  9. Considering the current unfavorable sentiment when it comes to things “government”, when said government publishes a document which includes statistics later said to have been included “in error” and “an oversight” and then claim “misinformation” when these same numbers are seriously contested, does that not bring to mind Pres. Reagan’s simple warning to us all: “I am from the government and here to help”?

  10. I find it fascinating that the result of pretty uninformed opinion is the grumble, “we need to secede.” This emotional and irrational backwash to the BLM proposal is indicative of larger forces at work, and how these forces manifest in the opinions and behaviors of those who adopt the mantle of “victim.” The world is changing. Social norms and standards emphasizing environmental justice are being strengthened.

    I wonder if those opining the loudest actually read the proposal beginning to end, or at least the intro, executive summary and purpose/need sections? Can you speak to the difference between the four plans and why you prefer one to the others? Or is it enough to shout out “I’m a victim?” That fills an emotional need to be sure. But there is nothing rational there.

    The third paragraph in the proposal’s introduction lays out the big picture. The principles laid out there constitute a guide for all of America’s land use. To reduce the vision underlying these principles and guidelines to an us (victim) vs. them (perpetrator) framework is saddening. The rule of law guided by hallowed principles that generate freedom for all of us is gnarled and twisted. The “idea” of freedom for all is made small and self-serving into “my freedoms.”

    One of the reasons the sagebrush rebellion, or “The State of Jefferson” being advocated in rural California, Oregon and Idaho for a century or more has never become more than a victims grumble is that it is based in emotion, and is therefore irrational. The vision goes no further than, “let’s take back what was stolen from us.” That’s not enough to build a new country, unless a person inhabits the mindset that is emotional and irrational, that reduces freedom for all to “my freedoms.”

  11. This piece should be labeled as an Opinion.

    The author makes some personal value judgments and tells how certain statements made by certain members of the legislature should be viewed.

    1. I’ve made the exact same argument on numerous WyoFile “news” articles. News in news, i.e. – “just the facts, Ma’am”.
      Facts, or news, is not “here is how interpret what the ‘facts’ are”.

  12. All I can tell BLM at this time is “STAY THE COURSE.” I’m tired of the misinformation and rhetoric that relates to every facet of our lives. The people who are lying are those who don’t give a damn about wildlife or wildlife places unless they think they can make a dollar off of it or a name for themselves and their political affiliation. This state, along with much of the country has gone down hill ever since Trump started talking.

    1. Dan, I believe that the problem actually predates Trump, although he exacerbated and modernized the problem through the use of social media. I would lay the blame on Newt Gingrich and his hate for Bill Clinton. Before him, there was collaboration across the aisle and things got done. After FDR, LBJ and to some extent Nixon, there wasn’t that much accomplished legislatively until Biden’s first two years, and then he lost the House of Representatives when the party of no took over.

  13. To read this article, one would assume that every single comment submitted against the “most restrictive and preferred “ alternative was absolutely wrong and misinformed. Federal officials hardly ever chose the most restrictive alternative, and for authors of articles to push for them as if they are practical and legitimate options confirms the extreme level of bias in this “news site”. Mr. Dickerson is absolutely right. If everyone believed that everything that agencies and the ‘press’ puts out is correct and true without question, we would be finished as a free nation already.

  14. The outlandish and inaccurate statements being made by some of our politicians is embarrassing. I hope BLM doesn’t let hysteria influence the final decision.

  15. BLMs preferred alternative would also prohibit the recreational collecting of petrified wood across the entire area.

  16. Probably should not have used the phrase “shouted down.” But the statement he was referring to should be politely and repeatedly challenged as ahistorical and frankly ludicrous.

  17. BLM needs to fire Brad Purdy as it’s spokesman. It is not hyperbole to recognize that our federal government is corrupt. Hunter Biden pays no taxes, his father takes bribes and the BLM wastes billions and comes up with schemes to bankrupt hard working Americans. Then says we exaggerate. Insulting pompous bureaucrat.

  18. “We need to fix that, that was an oversight on our part” says Rock Springs BLM manager Kimberlee Foster. She sounds a lot like Nancy Pelosi, we must get this passed so we know what is in it!
    This plan is an economic killer for southwest Wyoming. A “community killer” speaker of the House Albert Sommers called it at a recent meeting in Pinedale when this plan was discussed with the Select Water and Agriculture legislative committee on Sept. 12th.

  19. You would expect the BLM to better analyze the document knowing the level of scrutiny the land use plan would incur – from both sides of the fence – and the document should face considerable scrutiny.

    “We need to fix that,” she said. “That was just an oversight on our part, that we didn’t pull out the impacts from what could have happened if that travel management plan was completed.”

    Makes you wonder what else is an oversight or other areas the BLM back tracks because residents of the state do shout from every corner of the state. You have to be concerned when government officials use language like “shouted down.” Right, wrong or indifferent citizens in this country should have the opportunity to express their opinions and not be “shouted down.” At the time, I am sure plenty of people thought Thomas Paine was a crack pot and was shouted down. This country was formed by people expressing opinions that might have been outside of the mainstream. You do not have to agree, but our country was founded on the free expression of ideas.

    1. “….our country was founded on the free expression of ideas”

      Are “free expression of ideas” the same as outright lies and falsehoods? Should those who believe that the earth is flat be allowed to dictate geography curriculum to the masses?

      There is a disconnect between freedom of speech and you have to believe my crazy conspiracy theories. Facts are facts. And the more people placate the conspiracy believing gullibles, the worse we ALL we be…

      1. The article does not prove any of are lies and falsehoods. The writer did not use any quotes from the proposal or anything else. All he did was copy and paste quotes from BLM’s PR flack and ad hominem attack the critics as “far-right” (a meaningless buzzword at best.) and digress about the Sagebrush Rebellion which has nothing to do with any of this.

    2. You’re correct that the BLM should have better analyzed the document before making it public, but comments from members of the so-called Wyoming Freedom Caucus and representative Hageman are hardly the “free expression of ideas”, they are lies and misinformation.

      1. Are they? Have you read the proposal? I doubt the writer did. He only gave us BLM’s PR person’s spin, and saying critics need to be shouted down ie heckler’s veto.