New fund supported by sportsmen and women will help unlock access to Wyoming’s 4 million acres of inaccessible public land
Today, Governor Mark Gordon signed House Bill 122, Reliable Funding for Hunting and Fishing Access, into law. By increasing the cost of a conservation stamp, the legislation provides funding for willing landowners to open access or create easements that unlock inaccessible federal and state lands. This bill passed through the 2021 legislative session thanks to the support of passionate hunters and anglers and lawmakers who value the strong sporting heritage here in Wyoming.
Representative Cyrus Western of Sheridan, an avid hunter and angler and the primary sponsor of the bill, stressed the collaborative and bipartisan support behind it. “This was a team effort of the highest order,” said Western. “From industry leaders to local hunters and sportsmen groups, there was an authentic and organic push for this legislation by people who hold public access near and dear. Sportsmen and women made their voices heard by coming out to support this bill in big numbers.”
The legislation raises the cost of an annual conservation stamp, which hunters and anglers are required to purchase before going hunting or fishing, by $9 to create a fund for the Wyoming Game and Fish to develop more access agreements to private and landlocked or difficult-to-access federal and state lands. This will help complement Wyoming’s existing Access Yes program with additional opportunities for hunting and fishing.
The recent easement created to access Raymond Mountain near the Wyoming-Idaho border is a perfect example: That agreement provided improved access to 33,000 acres.
Jess Johnson, government affairs director for the Wyoming Wildlife Federation, spent more than a year gauging member support for a bill of this kind. In a survey of the organization’s members, 75 percent said they would support a $5 to $10 fee to improve hunter and angler access in Wyoming. “It’s clear that access is important to people who hunt in Wyoming statewide,” said Johnson. “This bill really was passed through the voice of proactive hunters and anglers.”
“This is the single most important thing done for Wyoming hunter and angler access in more than 20 years,” said Dwayne Meadows, WWF’s executive director.
More than 4 million acres of federal and state lands in Wyoming lack permanent legal public access because they are surrounded by private lands, according to a report by the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and onX, which helped spur the legislation.
“Not only is this a great step in addressing the landlocked issue for hunters and anglers, it also provides landowners a voluntary opportunity for additional income to maintain their ranches and livelihoods,” said Nick Dobric, Wyoming representative for the TRCP.
The bill also directs a small portion of funds to making roadways safer for drivers and wildlife, as well as supporting jobs by funding wildlife-friendly highway crossing structures and fish passage projects.
Along with Wyoming Wildlife Federation and Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, other sportsmen’s organizations that supported the bill were Mule Deer Foundation, Western Bear Foundation, Wyoming Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Trout Unlimited, Muley Fanatic Foundation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Water for Wildlife Foundation, One Shot Antelope Hunt Club, and Bowhunters of Wyoming.
The sporting community applauds Representative Western, Governor Gordon, and all the elected officials who helped pass HB 122.
7 Responses to “Wyoming Passes Law Aimed at Improving Hunter and Angler Access”
I love that the sportsmen and women are finally being heard about the landlocked state and federal lands that have been completely cut off from our use without paying huge trespass fees or hiring a outfitter. My only concern is that many out of state land owners that own huge potions of private property but have thousands upon thousands of public land completely blocked off with zero access will continue to stay this way due to the high prices that outfitters will pay for access. What is going to take place to help us there ? Will the state start to take away wildlife damage money away that us as the hunting and fishing community pay for through our purchase of hunting and fishing licenses? I’m sure I’m not alone in this question as many of us have asked this same question.
I am hoping this opens up some corner hoping too. I respect private property but hope to access some parcels that only meet at corners.
This is a great start! But please tell me why we have to pay a landowner for access to our public lands! There should be a federal law requiring access without payment, or they will have there cattle grazing lease revoked for these lands! I’m tired of trying to play nice with landowners taking profits from grazing and paid hunters at our expense! I demand access now without payment!
These are a great start at gaining access to our public lands.
I’m sure you and the team at TRCP will find some great solutions.
I hope you the family are doing well…
I have little hope the increased fee will do anything but make us pay more to hunt and fish. My experience show land owners have little respect for the hunting and fishing public. They prefer the big dollar outfitters.
It needs to cover corner crossings. Ranches like the Q Creek have access to a lot of land that could be accessible by corner crossing. Due to their money they have twice as many acres and only own half. I understand not crossing private property but if a corner is accessible from public it should be legal
Great start if it continues as intended. I’ll stop my comment there.