Forest users invited to attend Pole Mountain road system meetings

The Laramie Ranger District and University of Wyoming Ruckelshaus Institute invite the public to attend information-gathering meetings pertaining to motorized access on the Pole Mountain road system north of Laramie, Wyoming.

A meeting will be held July 14 at the Laramie County Library located in Cheyenne from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. A second meeting will be held July 15 at the Civic Center located in Laramie from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Input from forest users will be used prior to the upcoming Pole Mountain Travel Management Project. These meetings are not required as part of the National Environmental Policy Act process, but they are an opportunity for the U.S. Forest Service to learn more about public use of the area before proposing management updates. At the meetings, the USFS will explain the NEPA process and need for travel management, as well as gather user-specific information.

“Our intent is for these meetings to be the start of heavy public involvement in a major project,” said Laramie District Ranger Frank Romero. “Pole Mountain is extremely popular and many members of the public feel strongly one way or another about what the future of the area should look like. Hopefully that translates into a high level of interest and participation in this planning process. I am looking forward to all of the interaction that will take place. We want to pour over maps with people and listen to their comments and concerns. The more information that I receive from the public, the more informed decision I will be able to make in the end.”

The analysis area for the project is mainly north of Interstate 80 between Laramie and Cheyenne in the Laramie Range. It includes the road system that provides motorized access to approximately 55,000 acres on the Medicine Bow National Forest. Popular areas include Happy Jack, Blair-Wallis, Vedauwoo and Eagle Rock.

In Laramie, Cheyenne and Fort Collins, the Pole Mountain unit is some of the closest and most accessible National Forest System lands. Pole Mountain sees heavy year-round usage from visitors who want to explore public lands. Popular uses include mountain biking, livestock grazing, hiking, off-highway vehicle travel, communication sites, climbing, camping, military training and hunting/fishing. The travel management project will identify a safe, sustainable motorized transportation system that provides access opportunities for multiple uses, minimizes user conflicts and protects natural resources.

It is important to note that no proposals or determinations have been made by the Laramie Ranger District. The USFS will combine public input with an upcoming road assessment to determine future proposed actions.

Beginning in early July, there will be an informative, interactive website devoted to the topic. The site will collect additional public input and contain short videos that highlight the areas and issues on Pole Mountain. Updates on the project, pictures and changes to the website will be posted on various social media forums. There will be two additional meetings held in late August to discuss the comments and concerns gathered during the first two meetings.

The Laramie Ranger District has partnered with the University of Wyoming Ruckelshaus Institute of Environment and Natural Resources to help facilitate the public information gathering process. The Ruckelshaus Institute will coordinate the public meetings, develop a public-information website, and collate public input for the USFS.

The Ruckelshaus Institute, a division of the Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Wyoming, advances the understanding and resolution of complex environmental and natural resources challenges and supports stakeholder-driven solutions to environmental challenges by conducting and communicating relevant research and promoting collaborative decision making.

For more information, call 307-745-2300 or go to 2468 Jackson St. in Laramie from 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. You can also visit the website at http://fs.usda.gov/mbr or follow the Medicine Bow National Forest on Twitter: @FS_MBRTB.

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