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Keep The Medicine Bow WILD
Roadless Area Descriptions

Maps of Roadless Areas
Select a Forest Region
Snowy Range
Sierra Madre
Laramie Peak
Vedauwoo

Following are short descriptions of each roadless area on the Medicine Bow National Forest - organized by Mountain Range.



Snowy Range
Snowy Range Map



Illinois Creek
Illinois Creek
Hal Wedel photo
Photo 1
Illinois Creek (6,707 acres). This proposed wilderness is connected to the Platte River Wilderness. It contains the gently rolling forested uplands and a large network of valleys and wetlands. The jagged Castle Rock rises to a height of 8,600 feet in the northwestern part of the area. Illinois Creek is a quiet mountain stream bordered by abundant willows, providing food and habitat for moose, beavers, blue herons, and northern leopard frog. This area is also home to Forest Service Sensitive Species such as boreal owl, northern goshawk, western boreal toad, wood frog, and pine marten. This area is a logical addition to the Platte River Wilderness; wilderness status will protect it from logging and the illegal ATV use that currently occurs in the headwaters area.


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Libby Flats

Libby Flats
BCA photo

Photo 1
Libby Flats (17,006 acres). This proposed wilderness joins the French Creek and Libby Flats Inventoried Roadless Areas through the closure of Forest Road 336 south of its junction with Forest Road 396. The jeep trails to Bear Lake and Silver Run Lakes would remain open to vehicle travel under the Keep the Medicine Bow WILD Alternative. This is a landscape dominated by subalpine ribbon forest, where patterns of tree growth are determined by winter snowdrift accumulations. To the west is the steep canyon of French Creek, a rocky stream with many waterfalls that provides excellent habitat for beaver and moose. To the east, Libby Creek and Silver Run Creek cascade down from the high country in a series of picturesque waterfalls. The beaver dams and deep pools of Libby Creek provided good fishing opportunities. In the upper elevations, subalpine meadows are dotted with lakes and ponds. Sensitive species found within this area include the western boreal toad, northern goshawk, boreal owl, dwarf shrew, pygmy shrew, three-toed woodpecker, and northern leopard frog. The area is threatened by logging operations and off-road vehicle use.


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Cumberland Gulch

Cumberland Gulch
BCA photo

Photo 1, Photo 2
Pennock Mountain (9,592 acres). This proposed wilderness encompasses an isolated mountain at the northern end of the Medicine Bow range. Steep slopes and razorback ridges rise to the crest of Pennock Mountain, which is robed in timber. Elevations range from 8,200 feet to over 10,000 feet, encompassing a rich tapestry of different habitats, ranging from aspen woodlands to sagebrush grasslands and coniferous forests. The intermixture of these habitats in close proximity according to widely variable microclimates makes this area unique. It also makes this area excellent big game habitat, and indeed it is an important calving and winter range for elk. The dissected nature of the numerous ridges and draws yields a high degree of topographic screening, so that human intrusions on the surrounding plains are difficult to see except from the grassy slopes along the lowest elevations of the mountain. Pennock Mountain is threatened by an upcoming timber sale, along with off-road vehicles.


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Platte River Additions (7,947 acres). These parcels of roadless land occur along the boundary of the Platte River Wilderness. Vegetation consists primarily of mixed conifer-aspen woodlands on rolling uplands and steep canyon slopes that are timbered or robed in sagebrush grassland. Some of the roadless additions contain hundreds-of-year-old ponderosa and limber pines and important Native American structures and artifacts. We recommend proposed wilderness status for each of the fragments identified as inventoried roadless areas. The importance of large, undisturbed areas for bighorn sheep reintroduction success points to the necessity of protecting these parcels as wilderness to enhance the chances for survival of the Douglas Creek bighorn sheep herd. The roadless additions will eventually be logged if they are not protected as wilderness.


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View of the foothills west of Rock Creek
BCA Photo

Photo 1, Photo 2, Photo 3, Photo 4, Photo 5, Photo 6, Photo 7

Rock Creek (18,859 acres). This proposed wilderness takes in a deep, forested canyon along the northeastern edge of the Medicine Bow Mountains. The canyon of Rock Creek is bounded by steep, timbered slopes and dramatic cliff outcrops. High ridges to the east of the stream are clad in an old-growth forest of lodgepole pine and spruce-fir stands. The wood frog, western boreal toad, northern goshawk, and boreal owl are among the rare and sensitive animals that call Rock Creek home. There are also historic records of the presence of Canada lynx in this area. Echoes of past human activities can be found in the form of old mine sites and tie hack camps scattered throughout the Rock Creek canyon and the surrounding ridges. Several popular hiking trails traverse the area-including the Rock Creek, Deep Creek, and Crater Lake Trails. This proposed wilderness offers excellent opportunities for hunting, fishing, backpacking and camping. The area has been laced with illegally-created ATV trails, which would be closed upon designating the area as proposed wilderness. Wilderness protection is needed to protect this area from off-road vehicles, logging, and oil and gas development.


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Savage Run Additions (2,370 acres). These parcels of roadless land occur along the boundary of the Savage Run Wilderness. Vegetation consists primarily of mixed conifer-aspen woodlands on rolling uplands and steep canyon slopes that are timbered or robed in sagebrush grassland. These lands provide excellent opportunities for hunting and day hikes. We recommend proposed wilderness status for each of the fragments identified as inventoried roadless areas to protect them from clearcut logging. The area also suffers from much over-grazing.


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Snowy Range

Snowy Range Roadless Area
Jim Gores photo

Photo 1, Photo 2, Photo 3,
Photo 4, Photo 5
Snowy Range (36,722 acres). This proposed wilderness encompasses both the Snowy Range and Campbell Lake Inventoried Roadless Areas, which would be united by the closure of a jeep trail (FR 103) that has been inducted into the Forest Transportation System. This area encompasses an alpine landscape carved out by past glaciers and dominated by the lofty, cliff-girt summits of the Snowy Range. Surrounding the alpine meadows are ribbon forests and timberline woodlands of great age, where individual trees have been found to be over 800 years old. The alpine tundra and subalpine woodlands that surround the peaks are dotted with numerous alpine lakes, which offer good fishing opportunities. The alpine tundra found along the flanks of the mountains is home to eight species of rare and endemic plants. This is also the habitat of the white-tailed ptarmigan, an endemic grouse that went extinct locally-perhaps as a result of rampant snowmobile use in the area. This area is also the only summering habitat in the world for the brown-capped rosy finch, and year-round habitat for the endemic Medicine Bow collared pika, a subspecies unique to the range. Other sensitive species that are known to occur here include the western boreal toad, dwarf shrew, pine marten, northern leopard frog, boreal owl, and wood frog. The area has been used in recent years as summer range by the rams of the Douglas Creek bighorn sheep herd, and the western meadows are a summer range for elk, deer, and black bear. Potential denning habitat for Canada lynx has also been identified in this area. Developed recreation sites along the edge of the area do not detract significantly from its naturalness. The area is threatened by logging, off-road vehicle use, sheep grazing (on several currently vacant allotments), and snowmobiling.


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Middle Fork of the Little Laramie River
Middle Fork of the Little Laramie River
BCA Photo
Photo 1, Photo 2, Photo 3
Middle Fork (13,232 acres). This area takes in the canyon of the Middle Fork of the Little Laramie River, as well as much of Centennial Ridge. The area is known for its rich mining history, and numerous mining ruins can be found throughout its entirety. Considerable acreage of old-growth forest stretches east from the Middle Fork and into the adjacent rolling uplands. The Middle Fork canyon contains several very impressive waterfalls that are important attractions to visitors. Due to the area's lack of developed trails, its extremely steep topography, and its thick forest, the area provides many opportunities for recreationists looking for a challenging wilderness experience. Rare and imperiled animals such as northern goshawk, pine marten, western boreal toad, wood frog, and pygmy shrew have been documented in this area. We propose that the jeep roads FR 307A and FR 307 south of the Queen Mine site be closed, and be included within the proposed wilderness.


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Sierra Madres
Sierra Madre Map


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Battle Creek. This proposed wilderness provides habitat for Columbian sharp-tailed grouse, a rare and declining species. It contains extensive aspen forests that support red-naped sapsuckers, downy woodpeckers, and other wildlife that require aspen habitats. Part of Forest Road 807 1E would be closed, reclaimed, and included in the proposed wilderness under the Keep the Medicine Bow WILD Alternative because of its unmaintained and rapidly deteriorating condition. The closure of this route would consolidate the roadless lands and make it much more manageable as wilderness.


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Battle Mountain (4,480 acres). Battle Mountain is an old volcanic core located along the western edge of the Sierra Madre that began erupting 11 million years ago. It is mantled in a mountain shrub ecosystem with a unique component of Gambel oak woodland that has been the subject of a thorough botanical inventory. The area is officially inventoried as roadless, and the upper reaches of the mountain have not been grazed since 1965. As a result of little to no livestock grazing, the native plant diversity of the Battle Mountain roadless area is astounding and unmatched throughout the Medicine Bow. Sensitive Species present here include the Columbian sharp-tailed grouse, northern goshawk, and loggerhead shrike. It contains crucial winter range for elk and mule deer. Little goldenaster and an isolated population of smooth green snake are also present on Battle Mountain. This proposed wilderness does not meet the size criteria under the Wilderness Act, but qualifies because it is manageable as a single unit. In fact, it is manageable only as a single unit because it is entirely surrounded by private lands. We propose the entire inventoried roadless area as a Research Natural Area.


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Bear Mountain

Bear Mountain Roadless Area
Angie Young photo

Photo 1, Photo 2, Photo 3
Bear Mountain (9,426 acres). This proposed wilderness takes on a pristine section of low but mountainous terrain along the eastern edge of the Sierra Madre Range. The vegetation is a mix of coniferous forests, aspens stands, and open sagebrush meadows. Relict stands of ponderosa pine are found along the easternmost fringes of the area. Elevations range from 7,900 feet to almost 10,000 feet, encompassing a range of microclimates and habitat types. It includes parts of the North and Middle Forks of Big Creek, which are noted as high-quality trout fishing streams. Elk calving and winter range also have been identified within the area, and a population of low-elevation pikas belonging to a subspecies unique to the Sierra Madre Range is known to inhabit the canyon of the Middle Fork of Big Creek, and may also occur within the proposed wilderness.


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Bridger Peak Roadless Area
Bridger Peak Roadless Area
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Bridger Peak (6,694 acres). This proposed wilderness covers the timbered high country near Battle Pass, encompassing some of the loftiest summits in the Sierra Madre Range. Outcrops of cliffs and exposed bedrock occur near Quartzite Peak, and evidence of past glaciation can be seen in the large cirques found at higher altitudes. Sensitive species present in this area include the Colorado River cutthroat trout, western boreal toad, northern goshawk, and clustered lady's-slipper. Part of the historic ore tramway that linked the Rudefeha copper mine with the smelter in Encampment is still visible along the south slopes of Bridger Peak.



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East Fork Encampment

East Fork of the Encampment River Roadless Area
BCA photo

Photo 1, Photo 2
East Fork Encampment (7,429 acres). This proposed wilderness encompasses some of the finest examples of pristine lodgepole pine forest uplands on the Medicine Bow National Forest. It encompasses much of the drainage of the East Fork of the Encampment River, a pristine stream. Mixed conifer forest that covers the area is highlighted by a small population of ponderosa pine at the eastern end of the roadless area that is isolated from other populations. The area is dotted with small but scenic outcrops of granite and other unique rock formations. A number of Forest Service Sensitive Species are known to reside here, including the boreal owl, golden-crowned kinglet, western boreal toad, three-toed woodpecker, and pine marten. This area serves as important scientific baseline for comparing the function of pristine forest ecosystems with that of areas that have been impacted by human influence. The area contains historic evidence of the tie hack era, including cabin ruins and old trails. If this area does not become wilderness, it ultimately will be logged.


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Encampment River Additions (4,983 acres). These parcels of roadless land occur along the boundary of the Encampment River Wilderness. Vegetation consists primarily of mixed conifer-aspen woodlands on rolling uplands and steep canyon slopes. We recommend proposed wilderness status for each of the fragments identified as inventoried roadless areas.


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Battle Lake

Battle Lake and Red Mountain
Erik Molvar photo

Photo 1, Photo 2, Photo 3, Photo 4
Huston Park Additions (8,401 acres). These parcels of roadless land occur as small- to medium-sized fragments of pristine country along the edges of the Huston Park Wilderness. Among these are important drainages such as the Roaring Fork and North Fork of the Little Snake River, highly important streams for the protection of the rare Colorado River cutthroat trout. Vegetation types range from high-elevation spruce-fir forest to extensive aspen woodlands along the southwestern foothills of the Sierra Madres. Naturalness and recreation opportunities are similar to those found within the Huston Park Wilderness. Clearcuts along the northeastern flank of the Huston Park Wilderness demonstrate that areas bordering the current Wilderness will not be managed as transitional areas, but rather for full-scale timber production where opportunities are presented; it is thus important to grant wilderness status to these qualifying fragments of pristine habitat. We recommend proposed wilderness status for each of the fragments identified as Inventoried Roadless Areas.


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Mowry Peak (6,241 acres). This proposed wilderness covers the high, rolling uplands forested almost entirely in a subalpine spruce-fir woodland. This area has been identified by the Forest Service as potential denning habitat for Canada lynx, which were locally extirpated decades ago but which may expand their range into the Medicine Bow National Forest from introduced populations in Colorado. There are small lakes of glacial origins along the crest of the Sierra Madres in the southern portion of the area. This area is rich in mining ruins from the late 1800s, including parts of the old tramway that once linked the Rudefeha Mine with Encampment. The presence of these historical ruins enhances the recreational value of the area. This area is threatened by industrial-scale mining, logging, and snowmobiling.


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Sandstone Canyons (12,651 acres). This proposed wilderness unites the Big and Little Sandstone Inventoried Roadless Areas through the closure of the Sandstone Divide jeep route, a primitive route that is only passable to high-clearance four-wheel-drive vehicles, and even then only in the driest weather. This proposed wilderness contains the striking sedimentary canyons of Deep Creek, Big Sandstone Creek, and Little Sandstone Creek. The area is dominated by vast expanses of aspen forest, punctuated by meadows, and isolated stands of conifers. It offers outstanding displays of autumn colors that peak in late September. The only stands of ponderosa pine on the west side of the Sierra Madre are found within this proposed wilderness, as is the northernmost example of Gambel oak in the region. Parts of the area have been identified as important elk and mule deer birthing areas, while the lower skirts of the mountains are a crucial winter range. Beaver colonies along the major streams maintain a shifting mosaic of wetlands in the valley bottoms and support dense narrowleaf cottonwood and willow forests. Sensitive species such as the Colorado River cutthroat trout, northern goshawk, western smooth green snake, and clustered lady's-slipper have been documented in the area. There are no developed trails in the area, leading to outstanding opportunities for primitive off-trail travel in a largely pristine setting. Steep slopes and unstable soils make the area unsuitable for logging.


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Singer Peak-Deep Creek (16,902 acres). The Singer Peak-Deep Creek proposed wilderness covers the headwaters of Big Sandstone and Mill Creeks on the western slope of the Sierra Madre. This landscape of rolling country, dominated by the lone summit of Singer Peak, is covered in coniferous forest punctuated with sagebrush meadows and aspen stands. The upper reaches of the area are important elk calving range, while the western flanks are used for winter range. Colorado River cutthroat trout inhabit the Big Sandstone and Deep Creek drainages, and pine marten and northern goshawk also have been reported within the proposed wilderness. This area contains important calving areas for elk. The area is known for its unmerchantable timber and minimal snowmobile use due to dense forest and lack of groomed trails, and thus the designation of this area as wilderness would not cause a significant change in existing uses of the area. Forest Road 874 would be closed to the public due to its primitive and deteriorating condition, but would remain open to the owner of the private inholding in accordance with the special provisions for landowner access to private lands in the Wilderness Act.


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Solomon Creek (5,756 acres). This proposed wilderness encompasses rugged and heavily timbered foothills adjacent to the Huston Park Wilderness. The area is dominated by aspen woodlands, which offer spectacular displays of autumn colors. Parts of the area have been identified as elk calving habitats. The North Fork of the Little Snake River contains one of only two "conservation populations" of Colorado River cutthroat trout present on the Medicine Bow. These populations of this rare and declining subspecies are both genetically pure and isolated by barriers from other fish populations, which threaten the native strain by interbreeding. This area is a natural complement to the Huston Park Wilderness, and forms a critical forested link between the Huston Park wilderness and the Routt National Forest.


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Laramie Peak
Laramie Peak Map


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Buffalo Peak
Buffalo Peak
Photo 1, Photo 2, Photo 3, Photo 4
Buffalo Peak (17,543 acres). This proposed wilderness encompasses high granitic peaks and ridges forested in a lodgepole pine-dominated conifer woodland. This area includes the headwaters of a large number of small streams and major creeks. It is characterisized by heavily forested slopes along the perennial streams at the lower elevations. These streams have numerous beaver ponds and thick vegetation. Their drainages open into long meadows at higher elevations where scenic views of rocky outcroppings and nearby peaks can be enjoyed. Sensitive species present in the area include pygmy shrew, long-eared myotis, trumpeter swan, fisher, northern goshawk, pygmy nuthatch, lynx, and others, along with 9 sensitive bat species. Black bear and mountain lion also call the area home. Buffalo Peak is currently threatened by off-road vehicle use and logging.


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Cow Creek Mountain (8,269 acres). This proposed wilderness covers a high, forested hogback to the west of the scenic peaks of Eagle Mountain. Vegetation varies from a mix of ponderosa and limber pines on Sugarloaf Mountain to a lodgepole-spruce/fir forest on Cow Creek Mountain. Due to limited access and remoteness of the area, opportunities for primitive and unconfined recreation are outstanding, particularly in the off-trail areas.


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Gunnysack (12,161 acres). This proposed wilderness encompasses a maze of granite outcrops, tall peaks, and deep canyons. The upland forests are dominated by ponderosa pine, limber pine, and aspen, while spruce-fir woodlands and marsh habitats can be found along the streamcourses. Sensitive species known to inhabit the roadless area include northern goshawk and the endemic Laramie columbine. The meadows and marshes along upper Deer Creek are an important calving range for elk. Land exchanges to acquire the adjoining roadless State sections and inholdings would be actively pursued, and these lands would be added to the proposed wilderness as they are acquired. The isolated "tail" that runs south from the main body of the roadless area would be excluded from the proposed wilderness.


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LaBonte Canyon (16,257 acres). This proposed wilderness includes a number of tall granitic peaks as well as LaBonte Canyon, perhaps the most spectacular granite canyon in the Laramie Range. The area is forested primarily in ponderosa pine, but with elements of lodgepole pine, Douglas fir, and aspen. Ponderosa pine woodlands are currently poorly represented in the wilderness system of the central Rocky Mountains, and the addition of this unit to the wilderness system would be an important step in increasing the diversity of ecosystem types. This proposal would entail the closure of jeep trail FR 624 at the Curtis Gulch campground and the inclusion of all lands beyond the campground in wilderness.


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Laramie Peak

View of Eagle Mountain from
Laramie Peak
Erik Molvar photo

Photo 1, Photo 2
Laramie Peak (31,777 acres). This proposed wilderness covers the high granite hogback of Laramie Peak, the tallest peak in the Laramie Range, as well as the neighboring forested basins. The streams that flow through this area cascade down picturesque waterfalls in groves of aspen. As outlined by the Keep the Medicine Bow WILD Alternative, the proposed wilderness would entail closing part of the "Arapaho Trail" jeep road to motorized use, and would thereby encompass roadless lands of the Bear Head Mountain area. Although an ATV trail extends to a radio repeater complex at the summit of Laramie Peak and a powerline runs eastward from this site, the remainder of the roadless area is in a pristine and natural condition. Contained within the proposed wilderness is the Ashenfelder Basin proposed Research Natural Area, which contains some of the most outstanding examples of old-growth ponderosa pine woodland in the state. This proposed wilderness is particularly important from an ecological and scientific perspective because it contains a sufficiently large expanse of undisturbed forest to allow natural disturbance patterns to proceed unmolested, as evidenced by the outbreak of pine bark beetles to the north of Laramie Peak in the late 1980s and the Hensel Fire in 2002. Additionally, the roadless area is noted for its bird diversity and supports such species as MacGillivray's warbler, northern goshawk, Townsend's solitaire, Lewis's woodpecker, flammulated owl, and many others. A number of primitive trails are augmented by an infinite array of challenging off-trail hiking/scrambling routes to offer a broad spectrum of primitive recreation opportunities.


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Soldier Creek (5,989 acres). This proposed wilderness is located at the northwestern extremity of the Douglas Ranger District. Land exchanges to acquire the adjoining roadless State section would be actively pursued, and these lands would be added to the proposed wilderness as they are acquired. This area is characterized by a rocky granitic ridge with highly erodible soils. The vegetation is typical of the northern Laramie Range, a mix of lodgepole pine, limber pine, and aspen.


Vedauwoo
Vedauwoo Map


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Turtle Rock

Turtle Rock
Erik Molvar photo

Photo 1, Photo 2, Photo 3, Photo 4
Vedauwoo (6,300 acres). This proposed wilderness encompasses the maze of ancient granite Formations, towering cliffs and rock pedestals, at the southern tail of the Sherman Mountains. Vedauwoo is characterized by a tapestry of different forest types, from aspens and open meadows to ponderosa and limber pine savannas and dense woodlands of spruce, fir, and lodgepole pine. Within the granite outcrops, a maze of miniature valleys and drainages are sprinkled with meadows and aspen groves, with a thriving population of beavers. The area is also home to nesting raptors, marmots, golden-mantled ground squirrels, and the rare Preble's meadow jumping mouse. There are few trails in the area, but the open nature of the country makes for outstanding cross-country hiking opportunities. This area has abundant biological soil crusts, which are very fragile and easily disturbed by motor vehicle traffic. It is bounded to the south by FR 700 and to the north by FR 707A. All unmaintained jeep roads that fall within this area will be closed and returned to a natural state. The Vedauwoo area provides outstanding rock climbing opportunities, as well as opportunities for hiking, scrambling, wildlife viewing, and winter snowshoeing. It is currently threatened by rampant off-road vehicle use and livestock grazing.


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Biodiversity Conservation Alliance
P.O. Box 1512, Laramie, WY 82073
(307) 742-7978 - maggie@voiceforthewild.org