Riparian protections important to protecting quality of life

Most people who live here enjoy the western way of life — a slower pace, the small-town feel and especially the breathtaking scenic vistas that surround our community.

Tourists, too, often pause to snap photos as they cruise through town or the mountains.

To maintain this quality of life, Sheridan County is currently considering updating zoning regulations to manage and protect lands adjacent to rivers, streams and wetlands.

The county has been working on the proposed changes for years and public comments on the proposed regulations will be accepted through April 8.

The root of the idea got started in the county’s Comprehensive Plan, adopted in December 2008.

The goal is to preserve wildlife habitat and riparian areas. This is key to maintaining our western quality of life.

Riparian areas provide a source of water, food and protection for a countless number of species that roam our foothills.

These are the same species we often hunt or catch in the rivers and streams the regulations seek to protect.

Big changes to regulations, though, mean one thing for certain — not everybody will be happy.

Yes, the regulations in some ways limit property rights — restricting where structures can be built on land you own.
The larger good also needs to be served.
If every property owner in the county decided to build on or very near these riparian areas, species would dwindle and vegetation would perish.

Our very way of life would be altered. Once those riparian areas are destroyed, there is no getting them back.

The efforts from the county are sure to ruffle some feathers, but the aim to protect the riparian areas and all of the species it supports — including us — is a commendable one.

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