BLM collaborates with two non-profits for conservation of the Northern Red Desert


BLM Wyoming

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ROCK SPRINGS, Wyo. - The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Wyoming Conservation Corps (WCC), and the Wyoming Wilderness Association (WWA) recently collaborated to support conservation of the Northern Red Desert. During the 10-day project, which took place in July 2017, students from the University of Wyoming placed 113 signs indicating the boundary for five of the nine Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) in the Northern Red Desert. The effort will help preserve the area’s unique features and landscape.

Such partnerships are vital to managing sustainable, working public lands. “This project has set a wonderful precedent for collaboration between the BLM and non-profits in reaching shared stewardship goals,” said Shaleas Harrison, WWA wild lands community organizer. “It has helped to ensure that the magic of the Red Desert will be there for future generations.”

Visitors to the Northern Red Desert can encounter Wyoming’s archaeological and anthropological past. Fossils, artifacts, and famous historical landmarks are present in abundance. The landscape is also important to wildlife, as it is home to the largest over-land ungulate migration route as well as one of the largest desert elk herds in North America.

WWA sponsored the crew, ensured the students’ experience included an educational component, and worked as a liaison between BLM Recreation Planner Georgia Foster and WCC Program Director Patrick Harrington.  Foster prepared the tools, maps, and project details for the crew, while the WCC provided a work crew of seven university students. 

“It is important throughout their summer that WCC members receive diverse experiences in stewardship,” said Harrington. “These experiences help them grow as future employees and allow them to see how complex land management can be in Wyoming.” 

The project’s educational component included a guided tour with ethno-botanist and wildlife researcher John Mionczynski. He shared tales of Native American history with the students and gave them a chance to taste edible plants from the desert.

“The crew was fantastic!  The team completed far more than was anticipated at the beginning of the project,” said Foster. “The project benefited the students by helping them learn about what we do here, and the public benefits by having this type of work completed and information about these WSAs available.” 

The Wyoming Wilderness Association is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting Wyoming’s wild lands. Their work involves educating the public about wild places and working with federal land agencies on projects that affect wilderness quality lands. The Wyoming Conservation Corps is a non-profit program housed within the University of Wyoming that receives support through AmeriCorps. They conduct projects around the state on public land from habitat restoration to trail building to removing fence. 

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.