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Regulation Changes

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The supervisor for the Bighorn National Forest recently signed an updated occupancy and use special order that, among other uses, affects dispersed camping. Sheridan Media’s Ron Richter has the details.

Regulation Changes

Changes to note are the 14-day stay limit is now year-round, visitors are required to move any personal property five road miles before returning to a campsite, and a new wildlife attractant storage requirement.  Changes to the camping regulations are being phased starting this year.  These new regulations expire in December of this year and will be re-evaluated at that time. If there continues to be an unacceptable number of violations this year, further changes can be expected next year, including the requirement to remove all personal property from the Bighorn National Forest. |

Bighorn National Forest Supervisor Andrew Johnson said past environmental analysis and public input show that dispersed camping has been an issue on the Forest for decades, and along with resource damage, the behavior of leaving equipment on the mountain has reduced the opportunity for people to enjoy public lands. 

The wildlife attractant portion of the order includes requiring wildlife attractants to be stored in a closed vehicle, trailer, building, or facility constructed of solid, non-pliable material that, when secured, has no openings, hinges, lids, or coverings that would allow a bear to gain entry by breaking, bending, tearing, biting, or pulling with its claws (any windows must be closed). Horse or livestock trailers may not have any openings greater than 10 inches in two dimensions and must have any food, refuse, or animal carcasses stored more than three feet from any opening. 
Regular coolers are not considered bear-proof and should not be left outside unattended. The high and long-term use of dispersed camping sites in the Bighorn National Forest has been impacting other resources and regulation changes were necessary. Most of the changes to the regulations were developed from input provided by the public online and during six public meetings held during the late summer in 2022.

Bighorn National Forest officials continue to evaluate the remaining Big Horn Mountain Coalition’s Dispersed Camping Task Force recommendations. These recommendations include a sticker program to authorize dispersed camping, identifying designated dispersed camping sites, and the expansion of Jaws Trailhead to allow overnight camping, including livestock. Other ideas such as identifying locations that may have dispersed camping potential but are currently closed to motorized access are also being considered. You can find the new regulations along with all Forest orders here.



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    Tye Bach

    May 23, 2023 at 6:10 pm

    Maybe they should make more places accessible for camping. I’m not talking campgrounds either. I mean a few more areas where a camper can leave the main road with ease in order to camp a few hundred yards off the road. Quit closing roads right off the main road. Let folks go down even just a little way. This would cost less than the spending they are doing on the new red grade parking areas. Is there a way, or are they already trying to stop people from holding a campsite with just a single chair or other item!?

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    lennie johnson

    May 24, 2023 at 6:21 am

    Well here we go , step one , change 14 day limit to year round , this will cause more damage due to the weather conditions during hunting season which in turn will give them plausible opportunity to justify other changes . Not saying we dont have problems that need to be tended to , but through the years they have initially partially caused this dispersed camping issue due to closing off perfectly good camping sites which in turn causes people to have the tendency to leave their campers due to not being able to find another site , granted there are some that way over stay their spot and should be delt with firmly , this is where the stickers would come into play , with a bar code they could be scanned making it easier to keep track of time frames and owners information . As with anything , the more rules the more defiant and destructive people become regardless of the consequences , and the ones who love the mountain such as myself will have a tendency to stay away , theres always going to be a need for change due the few who cause problems for the many , but lets keep our wits about us and not ruin it for the many .

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    Levi Tew

    May 25, 2023 at 5:57 am

    So I see our public meetings where we discussed these things didn’t make one damn bit of difference. This is pretty much the opposite of what the public wanted. Typical government agency though, yes we’re here to listen to what you, the public, want but its just for show, we’re going to do whatever we want and there’s nothing you can do about it.

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    Daniel Robertson

    May 25, 2023 at 3:39 pm

    Where did you have these meetings? Jackson?

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    Vincent Sheridan

    May 25, 2023 at 4:37 pm

    Sitting in a 14 day maximum dispersed site as we speak. Observed people “relocating” their RV’s in storage to this location presumably for the upcoming weekend. And then they left. Nobody in the camp, stuff just pushed out of the back of the truck and kicked under the tongue. No interacting with nature or improving the area for the next guy. Nope. Derelict possessions just sitting there, freshly moved from the last place it sat and decayed. It’s a freaking shame a significant number of citizens who say they want less government want less so they can get away with more. I don’t think we need more laws, regulations or government, we need actual enforcement. I like what Lennie said, a sticker or something to save campgrounds for campers instead of the free storage rat attractions they’re becoming.

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