Supporters of a bill ending the ability of the Wyoming Environmental Quality Council to designate areas in the state as 'very rare or uncommon',  say enough of the state has already been set aside for protection. The bill looks likely to pass.

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Natrona County Representative Lisa Shepperson is a sponsor of House bill 152. She says the bill is needed to keep Wyoming open for business.

"We've got to keep our economy going and if we put the whole state under the rare and uncommon or some kind of protective class we aren't going to be able to be economically viable."

The bill also allows for removal of the very rare or uncommon designation from areas currently recognized. Shepperson believes that's unlikely.

Opponents of the bill point out that the designation does not effect oil, gas, or coal development nor does it effect grazing.

Richard Garrett, for the Wyoming Outdoor Council, suggests the bill is an over response to a process that since 1973 has effected a tiny portion of Wyoming’s lands: approximately 200,000 acres of the state’s more than 62 million. That's about .3 percent.

He and other opponents of the bill see the very rare designation as an important tool.

"The range of places that can be recognized are historically important, culturally important, or contain some kind of unique wildlife, botanical value, or a geological value."

A number of areas in Natrona County carry the designation including Bessemer mountain, Jackson Canyon, and Devils Gate.

House bill 152 has one more vote in the Senate to pass.