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"Brian, are Game and Fish Commission owned lands public lands?"

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department manages a variety of lands on behalf of the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission. The Commission owns many different lands and facilities across Wyoming. Examples include fish hatcheries, Wildlife Habitat Management Areas (WHMAs) and Regional offices. Lands owned by the Commission have been purchased for the express benefit of wildlife and hunters and anglers.

The greatest source of confusion related to this question relates to WHMAs. Commission-owned lands such as WHMAs are a hybrid between private lands and public lands. The Commission pays taxes on all the lands it owns, so these lands remain as part of the local tax base. As such, these lands are similar to private lands, and correspondingly allow for more stringent regulations governing uses of these lands, such as winter range closures, than traditional “public lands” such as Bureau of Land Management (BLM) or United States Forest Service.  

Alternatively, many Commissioned-owned lands are similar to traditional public lands as the public may freely access these lands for a variety of uses, outside of closure periods.  

In addition to Commission owned lands, the Game and Fish also manages federal and state lands as part of our WHMA management. This management situation typically occurs through a “Memorandum of Understanding” or “Special Use Lease” with federal and state partner agencies. The main difference between traditional public lands and Commission owned lands is a focus of wildlife and hunter/angler benefit rather than a multiple use philosophy.

 

Brian Parker
Habitat & Access Supervisor

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