Three people were inducted into the Wyoming Outdoor Hall of Fame on Oct. 18. They join 47 others honored since 2004 by “Wyoming Wildlife — The Foundation” for contributions to preserving Wyoming’s outdoor heritage.
This year’s inductees include David Sweet, David Lockman and, posthumously, Abraham Archibald “A.A.” Anderson, for dedicating their lives to helping birds, fish and the forests of Wyoming.
In the 1970s the Yellowstone cutthroat trout in Yellowstone National Park were legendary. People staked out spots to watch the fish swim upstream to spawn. It was during that time David Sweet first visited the park to fish. The trout astounded him — the color and the sheer numbers.
“I was just awestruck by those fish,” he said. “It wasn’t just a fishery, it was a tourist attraction at Fishing Bridge.”
The fish, he would also learn, were an important part of the entire ecosystem. And when decades later he’d learn how lake trout were decimating the park’s population of Yellowstone cutthroat trout, he decided to do something about it.
“I’m just a guy who loves to hunt and fish,” Sweet said. “But who really believes strongly in the survival of native species.”
Sweet grew up in a hunting and fishing family in Illinois. He came west to Colorado for more hunting and fishing opportunities. To meet other fishing enthusiasts, he joined Trout Unlimited. Eventually he began to help on conservation projects.
“I liked the conservation ethic of the group, the trying to give back to the resource,” he said. “They weren’t just takers. They were givers. They wanted to make things better.”
Sweet and his wife purchased a guest ranch in Wyoming outside Yellowstone National Park about 26 years ago, which they ran for about 10 years. He stayed involved in Trout Unlimited with the chapter in Cody, helping with conservation projects.
In 2007 he learned about efforts to kill lake trout in Yellowstone Lake to save Yellowstone cutthroat trout.
“It was very personal to me because I had a long history with those fish,” he said. “I just couldn’t sit on the sidelines and let that decline happen.”
Sweet started the Save the Yellowstone Cutthroat Project. A committee through his Trout Unlimited chapter has now raised more than $1 million to help eradicate lake trout.
More important than the money has been the visibility Sweet has given the project, said Pat Bigelow, a fisheries biologist in the park who first told Sweet about the lake trout problem.
“It’s not just him putting the message out, but relaying the message that this is important to the angling public,” she said.
Getting the message out was a challenge at times, and for years it seemed a losing battle as the lake trout population continued to grow and the cutthroat’s declined. But in the last few years new methods — from gill netting to using transceivers on captured fish to help find spawning areas — have helped eradicate more lake trout.
While the numbers might never be like what they were in the 1970s when Sweet first visited the park, he thinks the cutthroat trout could return to a stable population similar to that of the early 2000s.
It was dusk when Dave Lockman, then 12, and his friend decided to take a couple more shots, although it was 10 minutes past shooting hours. They walked to the milk barn carrying the ducks they’d bagged, and there waiting was Jack Hogue, a game warden of Brighton, Colo.
As punishment, Lockman had to join Hogue on field patrols every Saturday for two months. By the end of the first day Lockman knew he wanted to be a game warden.
Growing up, Lockman lived on game meat. His father, an avid outdoorsman, taught him to trap, hunt and fish when not working on the family dairy farm.
When he finished college he moved to Wyoming for a job with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. It was the start of a 32-year career with the department, 19 of which he worked as a field biologist studying waterfowl, some of the same birds that first got him into trouble as a child.
While his resume includes work supporting a long list of Wyoming birds and wildlife, it is his work with trumpeter swans that stands out to him as one of his most significant contributions.
“No one back then knew a heck of a lot about them,” he said.
Lockman helped create the first North American trumpeter swan management plan. He spent years studying the swans in western Wyoming. While he thinks about his work every time he sees a swan, he’s most proud when he hears the research and work he started still continues, even after he left field work to create and run the agency’s education programs.
Lockman started many of the education programs in place today, said Art Reese, a retired division chief with Wyoming Game and Fish who worked with Lockman in the 1980s and 1990s.
Lockman’s science background, along with his enthusiasm for the outdoors and desire to get more young people involved in hunting and outdoor activities, made him a huge asset to the agency, Reese said. His efforts have likely influenced hundreds of kids to pursue outdoor activities or careers.
Lockman, who lives in Cheyenne, retired from the agency in 2003, but continued working as a consultant. Recently retired from his consulting work, the 67-year-old now spends more time watching wildlife than hunting. He still hunts a little each year, but he learned his lesson at age 12 and never shoots after hours.
Abraham Archibald “A.A.” Anderson
Before there were grassroots movements and even a National Forest Service, there were visionaries like the artist Abraham Archibald “A.A.” Anderson.
Anderson, who died in 1940, homesteaded on the Greybull River near Cody in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Wildfires set by out-of-state sheepherders clearing land for grazing frustrated Anderson. He set out on a campaign to double the size of the forest reserve bordering Yellowstone National Park.
Well-connected, he used his influence, and in 1902 the forest was set aside by executive order, signed by Theodore Roosevelt.
“He had a unique vision of the West,” said Terry Cleveland, chairman of the selection committee for the Wyoming Outdoor Hall of Fame. “It wasn’t a grassroots situation; it was pretty much his initiative on the national level.”
With no national agency in place to manage the protected land, Roosevelt appointed Anderson as Special Superintendent to administer both the Yellowstone and Teton forest reserves. Anderson’s career administering the forests was short because he wanted to return to his art, Cleveland said. But his impact was long-lasting, assuring wildlife habitat and recreation areas for generations to come.
“If people like him and Theodore Roosevelt hadn’t had the vision they had,” Cleveland said, “the national forest system would never have come into existence.”