Bighorn River Blueway Trail Meetings – Public Input Needed
Written by Andrew-Rossi on March 21, 2022
Bighorn Basin residents are encouraged to attend public meetings to discuss the progress and possibilities of the Bighorn River Blueway Trail.
The Bighorn River Blueway Trail is a proposed 95-mile river trail that would start at the Wedding of the Waters south of Thermopolis and end at Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area in Lovell. It may extend even further to the Yellowstone Dam in Fort Smith, Montana.
This trail will offer access to non-motorized watercraft and tourists, offering various outdoor recreation opportunities. The allure of the include wildlife watching, ever-changing scenery, fishing (over a dozen game fish inhabit the river), and camping.
Since it was announced, the trail has attracted significant regional and national interest. The Powell Tribune reports the National Park Service Rivers Trails and Conservation Assistance Program awarded the project a technical assistance grant.
A “collaborative committee” is hosting meetings in communities that would most directly benefit from the Bighorn River Blueway.
The trail is an initiative of the Bighorn Basin Outdoor Recreation Collaborative. The group’s mission is “to promote, enhance, and develop sustainable outdoor recreation that encourages responsible use, personal well-being, and economic benefit in the Bighorn Basin.”
These meetings will discuss the overall scope of the project and get new ideas for the trail. Hopefully, more outdoor enthusiasts will get excited by the possibilities and lend their assistance to creating a unique and potentially profitable opportunity.
Thermopolis, Worland, Manderson, Greybull, Basin, and Lovell would most directly benefit from the trail. For example, businesses that sell or rent outdoor equipment, shuttle services, fishing guides, and overnight accommodations could see a significant financial boost as more tourist traffic floats by.
The meetings will be held:
Tuesday, March 22, at the Bighorn Canyon Visitor Center in Lovell
Thursday, March 24, at the Basin Arts Center in Basin
Tuesday, March 29, at the Worland Library
Thursday, March 31, at the Thermopolis Fire Hall.
All the meetings will be held between 6 and 8 p.m.
The Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument is “similar” to the proposed Bighorn River Blueway. According to a 2015 report from the Center for Western Priorities, that trail had a total economic impact of about $10 million per year and averaged 139,000 visitors annually.
The Bighorn Basin Outdoor Recreation Collaborative will implement the river trail in phases – with enough funding and support.
Work will include improving and increasing signage and access points, designating campgrounds, identifying & shoring up portage points at diversion dams, and working with private landowners to avoid trespassing.
A kickoff meeting for the Bighorn River Blueway Trail was held last summer on July 17, 2021. The event included a four-hour, 13-mile paddle down the river, highlighting the recreation opportunities the trail could bolster.
Other agencies expressing interest in the trail include the B.L.M., Wyoming Game & Fish, Wyoming State Parks and Trails, the Basin Area Chamber, the National Turkey Federation, and North Platte Walleyes Unlimited.
The Bighorn Basin Outdoor Recreation Collaborative encourages anyone with an interest in the Bighorn River Blueway Trail to take a ten-minute survey about the trail.