BIGHORN NATIONAL FOREST, Wyo. — One does not have to drive far to notice the dozens of campers and RVs parked among the trees from a common Forest Service Road in the Bighorn Mountains. Dispersed camping is one of the most popular recreational activities in the Bighorn National Forest.

The Bighorn National Forest has a set of rules for dispersed camping, but those orders expire at the end of the year.

This was one of the topics discussed during the Bighorn National Forest Steering Committee field trip last week in the Medicine Wheel Ranger District. The steering committee is made up of U.S. Forest Service managers, county commissioners, conservation districts and state agencies.

The Sheridan Press (http://bit.ly/2ctJHdt ) that forest officials are grappling with the idea of simply renewing the orders for another five years, or changing them to address issues that are common with dispersed camping.

Some of the more common issues mentioned are overcrowding and lack of availability of campsites in popular areas. Many of the trailers found in the forest are left unoccupied.

“Sometimes those trailers can sit for much longer than 14 days,” said Dave McKee, a USFS recreation staff officer.

The current rules require campers to move at least 5 miles after 14 days.

Camp trailers are often left on the mountain unoccupied, which can cause frustration around the holidays for other recreationists seeking a camping place.

Other issues are camping distance parameters — campers are required to camp no more than 300 feet from a Forest Service road, but many will camp farther away from the road to get in the tree line.

The fact that these issues exist shows a need for change, but to do this in the best way possible requires input from the public and stakeholders, officials said.

“We are working to find different perspectives and work it out, not fight over it,” said Bill Bass, forest supervisor.

The current rules will expire at the end of December but, according to Bass, changes can be made even after a renewal. He added, though, that forest officials want any changes to be vetted by the public.

“If folks enjoy camping, or they don’t — get them to the table,” Bass emphasized. “Getting those people to engage for us is the hard part.”


Information from: The Sheridan (Wyo.) Press, http://www.thesheridanpress.com/