Bill To Promote Wyoming’s ‘Other’ Outdoor Rec Options Sails Through

Bill to help Wyoming could become hot destinations for outdoor recreation outside major draws sails through Senate committee Tuesday.

Mark Heinz

February 27, 20243 min read

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To best succeed, Wyoming’s outdoor recreation business will need to be spread across numerous out-of-the-way hot spots to balance out such mega tourist magnets like Yellowstone National Park.

That was the word from numerous people who testified Tuesday in favor of House Bill 67, which would set up how to distribute millions of dollars from the Wyoming Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund. A similar Senate file failed earlier this month.

But the outlook is bright for HB 67, which would set up the administration for grant applications to dip into the trust, which the Legislature approved last year. The fund will have $6 million every two years to distribute.

HB 67 sailed through the Senate Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Committee with unanimous approval.

The grants that the trust fund could distribute to small communities all over the state would be vital, Cody High School student Sunday Shue told the committee during testimony in favor of it. She was in Cheyenne with Cody Youth For Justice, a group of students who advocate for legislation.

For example, Ten Sleep Canyon in the Bighorn Mountains used to be virtually unknown, but not anymore, Shue said.

“Now all of the sudden you see climbers everywhere when you’re going up that canyon. You see Sprinter vans on every pullout because people are always climbing up there,” she said.

So, it would be fitting to improve trailheads and other amenities for climbers there, Shue said.

Good News For Shooting Sports

Many recent outdoor recreation projects in Wyoming have been funded through the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA).

However, that money came with strings attached and often couldn’t go toward projects related to archery or firearms, some supporters of HB 67 said.

“A lot of those ARPA funds left the shooting sports out completely,” said Jess Johnson, the government affairs director for the Wyoming Wildlife Federation.

One highly desired outdoor project is a “walk-through” archery shooting range near Lander, she said.

“The ARPA funds wouldn’t have touched that,” but Wyoming money could be used for it, Johnson said.

The shooting sports, hiking and biking trials and other perks for locals and tourists could greatly enhance the economy in Fremont County, Central Wyoming College President Brad Tyndall said.

Fremont County also is among several locations in Wyoming vying to be the site of a proposed multimillion-dollar shooting complex, which could entice world-class shooting tournaments to the Cowboy State, he said.

Trails Galore

Such things as boat ramps and hiking and biking trails tucked away all over the state could also give Wyoming’s tourism economy a huge boost, other supporters of HB 67 said.

There are many miles of new trails planned for Park County, as well as better access to the iconic Heart Mountain, Rebekah Burns, executive director of Powell Economic Partnership/Powell Chamber/Powell Visitor Center, told the committee. But those seemingly small developments could still cost millions to build.

People are yearning for easily accessible, quick getaways because not everybody is seeking a backcountry adventure, she said.

There’s a huge demand for “front-country access to recreation,” Burns said.

Mark Heinz can be reached at

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Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter