Forest Service Proposes New Seasonal Road Closures
The Laramie Ranger District’s proposal would extend existing seasonal road closures by about three months, install five new gates, and impose some new road closures along the southeast boundary of the Snowy Range.
Area roads that are presently closed from Nov. 15 to April 31 each year would be closed from Oct. 1 to June 15. Currently, 37 miles of road along the foothills near Lake Owen and the Colorado border are impacted by seasonal closures.
Newly proposed seasonal closures would affect 10 sections of road totaling 8.6 miles, right next to critical big game habitat.
Forest Service Spokesman Aaron Voos says the roads in question mostly dead-end at the forest boundary and don’t see a lot of recreational use.
“The folks that will be affected are the hunters that access those areas during the fall – and possibly even during the spring hunting seasons as well – that might use those roads,” says Voos.
The Forest Service says the habitat in question is made up of winter range, transition habitat, and fawning and calving areas. It is crucial to local deer and elk herds.
Beginning in October, animals start to move from summer to winter range and need to forage as much as possible to prepare for winter. Deer fawns and elk calves are born in late spring, and minimal human disturbance gives the young animals time to grow and get moving.
The road closures would provide areas of secure habitat for deer and elk during transition periods, difficult winter months and the fawning and calving season.
Laramie District Ranger Frank Romero says the habit is unique because it provides multiple ranges that significantly impact the health of deer and elk.
“By working closely with the Wyoming Game & Fish Department, we have the opportunity to solidify existing closures and improve habitat for herds that have struggled in recent years,” says Romero.
The Forest Service is accepting comments on the proposal until March 15. The agency expects a decision sometime in April.
For information on submitting comments, call the Laramie Ranger District office at 745-2300 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.