The Wyoming Game and Fish Department, under the direction of the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission, administers lands and public easement areas that are home to vast numbers of fish and wildlife.
Wyoming’s Wildlife Habitat Management Areas provide crucial winter habitat for big game and important production areas for birds and mammals. Each WHMA is managed first and foremost for the purpose of the original acquisition, easement and/or agreement. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department also manages lands identified as Public Access Areas, which were acquired for the purpose of allowing public recreation. Each WHMA and PAA throughout the state may be managed by the department differently, depending on why the individual area was established. Many PAAs were acquired for specific public recreation purposes and therefore may not always be utilized for all “recreational” activities, i.e. fishing but not hunting.
There are four WHMAs within the Sheridan Region located along the east slope of the Bighorn Mountains with all originally established to provide crucial wildlife winter range for elk and mule deer. The Sheridan Region WHMAs in order from north to south are the Kerns (Parkman), Amsden Creek (Dayton), Bud Love (Buffalo) and the Ed O. Taylor (Kaycee) Wildlife Habitat Management Areas. These four WHMAs are comprised not only of Wyoming Game and Fish Commission fee title lands acquired primarily through federal wildlife funding programs, but also include lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Office of State Lands and U.S Fish and Wildlife Service. Since these WHMAs were acquired to provide crucial winter range for big game they all have a seasonal closure to all human presence during the harsh winter months to provide a safe refuge for these animals.
There are 16 Public Access Areas in the Sheridan Region ranging from Tongue River Canyon near Dayton to Blue Creek west of Kaycee to Sand Creek south of Beulah, Wyoming. All of these Public Access Areas help to ensure that anglers, hunters and others recreating in Wyoming have free, and in most cases, perpetual access to fish, hike, photograph and hunt in areas that might otherwise be inaccessible.
These WHMAs and PAAs are different from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Access Yes programs Walk- In Hunting or Walk-In Fishing Areas and Hunter Management Areas (HMA) which are not owned by the department. The areas are leased from private landowners to provide additional public access for hunting and fishing. The Access Yes program is primarily funded through donations and grants.
Seth Roseberry is the Sheridan Region Habitat and Access Coordinator for Wyoming Game and Fish.