Bighorn National Forest Officials Host Dispersed Camping Public Forums
Written by Caleb Nelson on August 22, 2022
Bighorn National Forest recreation managers are hosting a series of six public forums to gather input on “dispersed camping management.”
Interested parties are invited to attend meeting sessions “as long or as little as you like,” as there will be no formal presentations. These meetings are for prompting conversations around dispersed camping management and thoughts about the Dispersed Camping Task Force as well as any recommendations for managers to consider implementing.
Schedule of Forums:
August 4- Gillette, Campbell County Public Library 4:30-6:30 p.m.
August 18- Lovell, Fire Hall 4:00-6:00 p.m.
August 23- Sheridan, Sheridan College Broadway Center 4:00-6:00 p.m.
August 25- Buffalo, Johnson County Fire Hall 4:00-6:00 p.m.
August 30- Worland, Washakie County Library 4:00-6:00 p.m.
September 6- Greybull, Town Hall 4:00-6:00 p.m.
Throughout the summer of 2022, managers have asked for public input and updates regarding camping regulations based on recommendations from the citizen-led Dispersed Camping Task Force. One proposal includes changing the moving requirements to “a consistent approach to scenic by-way management where highway 16 would have a no-camping buffer like highway 14 and 14A, and consistency with all other national forests in the region to change to a year-round 14-day stay limit,” Bighorn National Forest Public Affairs officials say.
In addition to updating the regulations, the Task Force has recommended the following items, which are also being considered by Forest managers:
- Implement a sticker program to authorize dispersed camping
- Identify and assign designated dispersed camping sites
- Expand Jaws Trailhead to allow overnight camping, including livestock
Back in 2016, the Big Horn Mountain Coalition, in coordination with Bighorn National Forest staff, initiated a public discussion surrounding issues related to dispersed camping. The Coalition found that “the public agreed that issues with dispersed camping are a widespread problem,” the report states. The Coalition then solicited each of the four counties comprising the Forest to seek interested citizens to “participate in a collaborative task force.”
The goal of the Dispersed Camping Task Force was to review the findings of the Coalition surveys and hear the concerns of National Forest staff and work on building possible solutions.
After a year of monthly public meetings that were advertised by the counties and the Coalition, the Task Force submitted a list of recommendations to Bighorn National Forest managers. Due to staffing shortages and the pandemic, Forest officials were only able to implement one recommendation, an extension of the ending dates of the camping stay limits for 2020 (from September 10th to September 30th).