Richard Garrett Jr., legislative advocate for the Wyoming Outdoor Council, writes that lawmakers are likely to strip the Wyoming Environmental Quality Council’s authority to designate landscapes as “very rare or uncommon.” Garrett writes that in 40 years, the designation has been extended to only 0.3 percent of Wyoming’s landscape.

The “very rare or uncommon” land designation was originally created by the Legislature in 1973 (it was first called “unique and irreplaceable”).

The protection afforded by such a designation is modest but important: it simply means that non-coal surface mining is not allowed in a place determined to be “very rare or uncommon.” Thus the designation doesn’t affect sub-surface mining, oil and gas development, or other sub-surface resource development, and it doesn’t even preclude surface coal mining.

Since 1973, the Environmental Quality Council has used this designation to recognize a few important historical locations around the state as well as a handful of state wildlife habitat management areas and petroglyph sites—and, perhaps most importantly, to recognize the crown jewel of Wyoming’s Red Desert: Adobe Town.

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