State lands work to provide access data but don’t guarantee accuracy of tools
“There are state trust lands that are legally accessible, and there are state trust lands that aren’t legally accessible,” explains Ben Bump, assistant director of the Office of State Lands and Investments (OSLI).
Several years ago, OSLI put together an online map to show the public where legally accessible state trust lands are available for the use of recreation. The map also displays where state trust lands are not legally accessible.
State land access
“The access to state lands used to be more or less controlled by ranchers or grazing lessees,” says Bump. “Then, in 1988, the parcels that had legal access were opened up to the general public for day use recreation.”
“When people go out into the fields, the state land access map is a tool to help guide them,” says Tom Storey, Geographic Information System (GIS) program manager. “People still need to be familiar with rules and still use some common sense when they go out into the fields.”
Storey adds, “There is a disclaimer on our website that explains the map is to be used as a tool and at no time should it be used as a source that determines real access.”
Rules and regulations
“At the end of the day, it is up to that individual to know where they are at and if they are on accessible land or not,” says Bump.
For landowners who are experiencing trespassers on their private land, Bump suggests calling the sheriff’s office.
“If an individual thought they were on state trust land and it was because of a resource like our map or a BLM map, we hope they would get in touch with us right away,” comments Bump. “If we need to change something or update a parcel of land, we will.”
Bumps adds, “The public needs to understand the rules and regulations that govern Wyoming’s state trust lands. They are not available for camping, fires and things like that.”
“State trust lands are there to provide for education and for the future, and we want to all do our part as Wyoming citizens to take care of it and ensure it is there for the future,” says Bump.
Various background maps and base data are used to comprise the state lands access map. Sources such as Google maps, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Deworm, Tiger Data and local sources, such as county and city maps, were compiled in creating the document.
Storey explains that there are different layers that make up the state lands access map – such as a road layer that differentiates between private and public roads.
“There are different layers to all the different counties in the state of Wyoming,” says Story.
Another layer the state lands access map has distinguishes between state trust land and federal land. The state lands office uses BLM data as the primary resource for this layer.
Bump explains that the state lands access map is a resource that is available for the public’s use. It is only through public and landowner feedback that OSLI becomes aware of items on their map that are in need of updates or corrections.
“We encourage folks to send us an email if they find something that they think is a discrepancy on access or otherwise,” says Bump.
Bump adds, “We don’t know about them until they are brought to our attention.”
Once the office has received a discrepancy, they begin researching it in county and city documents and by sending out field staff to the area of complaint.
“We like to do our own research on inquiries from the public to verify what they are saying is correct,” says Story. “We can’t change our data without doing verification.”
Madeline Robinson is the assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.