“They’re not being educated in this way,” he said. “They don’t realize that this could be taken away. They don’t know it’s a privilege. And that’s the problem."
Across the western U.S., towns surrounded by public lands are facing an increasing bind: They're seeing a huge surge in visitors coming to play in the forests and mountains surrounding them, which is leading to an economic boom. But, at the same time, federal funding to manage these lands has been drying up.
"There are these dramatic increases in recreational uses of public lands, and at the same time dramatic declines in recreational budgets," says Megan Lawson, a researcher at the Montana-based think tank Headwaters Economics.
Check out this awesome volunteer opportunity on the Bridger-Teton National Forest!
Camp with a view of the Tetons for the summer and help promote Leave No Trace, BearAware and Firewise ethics in fellow campers. Friends of the BT is proud to be supporting new Ambassador and signage efforts in some of the Bridger-Teton’s most heavily used frontcountry camping spots: Spread Ck, Curtis Canyon and Shadow Mountain. Our National Parks have seen record visitor numbers in the last few years, and many of those visitors take advantage of free camping on our neighboring National Forests. If you think the Forest could use some help managing increased visitor use in these popular areas, please consider donating to btfriends.org today!
A new nonprofit dedicated to supporting the Bridger-Teton National Forest (BTNF) is beginning community outreach efforts across western Wyoming and seeking input from local Forest users and partners.
(Vail’s Langmaid) says it makes sense for local nonprofits and towns like Vail to help protect the forest and make sure visitors have a positive, safe experience. “For better or for worse, I think it’s a good thing, because it gives us an additional sense of responsibility and stewardship,” she said.
Most National Forests in Wyoming are struggling with the same recreational budget cuts as the Bridger-Teton, this piece from Craig Cope on the Bighorn National Forest is particularly enlightening.
That leaves the B-T — pinched between rising demand and plummeting resources — in need of creative solutions and outside help.