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Wildlife meeting: BLM gives update during convention

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Casper – During the Wyoming Natural Resource Rendezvous Convention and Trade Show on Dec. 7, the Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA), Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts and Wyoming Wool Growers Association hosted a variety of committee meetings. During the joint federal lands and wildlife meetings, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Wyoming State Director Andrew Archuleta gave several updates on federal lands and wildlife. 

Economic analysis 

“For all activities occurring on BLM public land, the state had roughly $13.5 billion of economic activity generated in the state per year a couple years ago,” shared Archuleta. “When I say economic output, it’s not necessarily how much money activities bring into the state, but what kind of activity it generates.” 

 “The economic output of coal, oil, gas, recreation and grazing is a big deal to the state of Wyoming, and it represents a large part of the activity in the state,” Archuleta said. 

He noted coal is on the decline, and he foresees this having a big impact on Wyoming. However, BLM is working diligently to continue oil and gas lease sales, with one planned for June 2023. 

“Oil and gas lease sales are big because the state gets half of the money from those lease sales,” he said. 

Last June, the total revenue from these lease sales was roughly $13 million, with $6.5 million going to the state. In addition, the fourth economic output, grazing on BLM lands, generates $200 million per year.  

Grazing rule 

The BLM is working on preparing a new rule to guide its management of cows and other livestock grazing on federal lands.

“Our grazing regulations were last modified in 1995, so this is the real reason behind updating and reviewing these regulations,” he said. “BLM revised the rule in 2006, but it was enjoined by the court.” 

“Our current rules were crafted with the idea that seasons stay the same every year, and it’s never truer, now than ever before. So, we need to have the flexibility to work with permittee holders and landowners,” he mentioned. 

He noted another big part of the goal is conservation and restoration, which is expected to be part of the rule in an effort to ensure public lands are available for future generations. 

Land acquisitions 

In June, BLM purchased the Marton Ranch, acquiring 35,670 acres of private land southwest of Casper. The ranch borders 8.8 miles of the North Platte River east of Alcova. In June, the state of Wyoming filed an appeal challenging the purchase. 

“It’s a done deal [in terms of the purchase],” said Archuleta. “The governor’s office filed a complaint, and the BLM has agreed to address their complaint by gathering public notice and comments.” 

Another concern was in reference to fishing in the North Platte River. He shared BLM is going to do further environmental analysis as requested by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. He expects the analysis will be completed in an environmental assessment and will be available for public input. 

“One thing that will come out of this is a better ongoing notification process,” he said. “I felt we had done a good job notifying folks. However, for some, this wasn’t the case, so we’re going to take another look and see what we can do better.” 

“One of our goals in land acquisitions is to consolidate BLM parcels into a manageable grouping of land,” he said. “All of our resource management plans provide an opportunity for the disposal of lands, but unfortunately, it’s not a simple process. BLM is looking into opportunities in an effort to have a better approach.” 

“There will likely be acquisitions in the future, and I want to be able to sit down in rooms like these to discuss the pros and cons,” he shared. 

BLM is waiting for final arrangements to be made on the appeal before making further action on the property, but the Martons will be grazing the property for at least two more years and will have the ability to extend their grazing abilities, he mentioned. 

Greater sage grouse 

During the joint wildlife and federal land meeting, Archuleta gave an update on the Greater sage grouse. He shared BLM is currently working on another resource management plan amendment. The last amendment they are operating under is from 2015. An amendment was attempted in 2019, but was  enjoined by the court. 

“The amendment we’re doing right now is to try to address some of those issues raised by the court in 2019,” he said. “One of them was in regards to a range-wide habitat basis, rather than by state. Going forward, we will submit records of decision by state, but the analysis will be on a range-wide basis.” 

To be announced at a future date, a public comment will be open on the BLM’s sage grouse plan.

“My goal is to keep the Greater sage grouse from getting listed,” he said. 

Wild horses 

In the joint wildlife meeting, Archuleta noted wild horses and burros are a tough topic to discuss. In the Wheatland facility, there was an outbreak of strangles and facilities throughout the state did not have the holding capacity to conduct gatherings this year. 

“I’m battling hard to get funding in order to do another gathering and meet an appropriate management level, but every year we don’t do a gather, we get further behind,” he said. “Let’s not lose the momentum we have here in Wyoming to make more progress.” 

“What we do here at BLM Wyoming matters, and my perspective on how we go about doing business is through a partnership,” he shared. “There’s no way we can do what we do without all of you and all of the industries we work with.” 

“I’m always here, willing to listen and willing to talk,” Archuleta concluded. “There’s nothing like getting to know people and getting to know the ground to make a difference.” 

Brittany Gunn is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to 

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