Buffalo Field Office improves Weston Hills Recreation Area

Story by Rachel Woita, Outdoor Recreation Planner, and Tyson Finnicum, Public Affairs Specialist. Photos courtesy of the State of Wyoming Trails Program.

The Weston Hills in northcentral Campbell County, Wyoming received some much-needed maintenance this fall thanks to the efforts of the Buffalo Field Office and its partners.

The BLM teamed up with the State of Wyoming Trails Program and the Forest Service Thunder Basin National Grasslands (TBNG) to improve the trails system within the Weston Hills Special Recreation Management Area, which is co-managed between BLM and TBNG. The work was funded with the “OHV Partnership” grant awarded by the State Trails Program. 

“Applying for the grant was really easy and working through the Trails Program provided the perfect opportunity to get some badly needed trail maintenance completed,” outdoor recreation planner Rachel Woita said. “Partnership is a great way to get a lot done and get the most out of taxpayer dollars.”

The popular recreation spot 25 miles north of Gillette had experienced years of natural resource damage from users riding off trails, creating new trails, and driving in wet and muddy conditions. Maintenance had not been done on the trail in more than six years.

The 5-person crew put in nearly 350 hours of work installing 600 feet of railing in the main parking area, creating restriction points to limit the size of vehicles allowed on the trail, and installing 1,500 feet of barbed wire fencing to keep vehicles on designated trails. Throughout the BLM portion of the trail, water bars and drainages were constructed to help reduce erosion.
 

Six width restriction points were installed to limit the size of vehicles allowed on the trails.
Six width restriction points were installed to limit the size of vehicles allowed on the trails.
Six hundred feet of railing was installed at the main parking area to ensure users park within the boundaries.
Six hundred feet of railing was installed at the main parking area to ensure users park within the boundaries.

The BLM has worked diligently over the past few years to improve the Weston Hills area by upgrading roads, thinning fuels, and adding fire rings. However, as Woita notes, some of the field office’s efforts to enhance the Weston Hills have been hampered by vandalism, in addition to the resource damage caused by unauthorized off-roading. A few of the fire rings were vandalized within a month of installation, and to date, four of the six have been damaged.

A portion of the all-terrain vehicle trail located on BLM-managed land was badly rutted due to poor drainage. The crew smoothed out the ruts, cut water bars, and added a curve to the trail to mitigate future issues.
A portion of the all-terrain vehicle trail located on BLM-managed land was badly rutted due to poor drainage. The crew smoothed out the ruts, cut water bars, and added a curve to the trail to mitigate future issues.

Woita reminds users that the joys of recreating on public lands also carry the responsibility of leaving the land in the same state or better than before. “The collaboration between BLM and our partners has been instrumental in making the Weston Hills a better place, and the public plays a crucial role in keeping it that way.”