While the deep snows of winter are receding into the high country, I can’t help but remember the somber views of starving mule deer and pronghorn antelope while driving south past Pinedale down to Rock Springs in March.
The carnage this past winter wreaked on our ungulate populations will be felt for years to come.
We can’t control what the weather throws at us, but we can control how we plan for storms that will inevitably come.
Right now, mule deer and pronghorn are recovering and preparing for next winter by teaching their fawns to migrate and strategically feed on the highest quality forage to build up critical fat reserves.
If we want healthy big game populations in Wyoming, we need healthy habitat, which is why it’s time for the Wyoming Bureau of Land Management to update the Rock Springs Resource Management Plan (RS-RMP).
The Rock Springs Field office covers over 3.6 million acres of diverse landscapes.
From pine forests, aspen groves, and trout-filled streams of the Greater Little Mountain Area, to critical sagebrush winter range for world's longest mule deer migration—the Red Desert to Hoback migration—the recreation opportunities are seemingly endless, including some of the most sought-after elk and mule deer hunting in Wyoming.
These precious BLM acres are also an important driver of local economies, providing leasing opportunities for energy development and livestock grazing.
Let’s ensure a resilient future for our recovering mule deer and pronghorn populations by updating the RS-RMP with conservation policies that conserve crucial habitats while also facilitating thriving local economies. It’s time for the BLM to release the draft RS-RMP.
Josh Metten is the Wyoming field manager for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership