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Changes in Stay Limits for the Medicine Bow National Forest

Robert Lz, flickr

Spending time in Wyoming’s back country is a great way to relax and getaway from it all.  But, if you are the type that likes to set up camp and stay for a few weeks in the same place (IE.. Hunters, etc..), you might want to take note of new changes in the camping limits in the Medicine Bow National Forest.

Campers on the Medicine Bow National Forest should note that there has been a change in the maximum stay limit this fall. A new Forest Special Order recently adjusted from 21 to 16 days the limit dispersed camping can occur at one site.

Dispersed camping is defined as setting up your own campsite outside of developed fee sites. Conversely, the limit for camping within a U.S. Forest maintained campground remains unchanged at 14 days.

The new order states that visitors can disperse camp in one location for no more than 16 days and then must move their camp at least three miles to another location. Once vacated, campers cannot come back to that same site to camp for at least 30 days.

The 16-day limit was designed to allow for dispersed campers to stay in the same spot for three consecutive weekends, but will discourage those who lock up spots on Forest and preclude others from being able to enjoy certain camping spots for long periods of time. The installation of permanent structures on Forest and resource damage often go hand-in-hand with long-time occupation of one camping spot, so Forest Service officials are hopeful that the new order will give those areas time to recover and regenerate.

Implementation of the new order will be a gradual process. Forest Service employees are currently working towards making contact with as many campers as possible and providing education on the new regulations. Signage will also be changed as time and budget allows this fall, expecting for all information to be updated for the 2014 camping season.

The previous Forest order regarding camping stay limits put the maximum at 21 days, but then required visitors to completely vacate the Forest for three days.

“This new order is not at all meant to be restrictive to campers on the Medicine Bow National Forest,” said Forest Supervisor Phil Cruz. “Rather, the public will now have more flexibility and freedom, since they do not have to leave the Forest completely after their 16 days are up.

“It will also allow for visitors to have access to a wider variety of dispersed camping spots, since the 16-day limit will discourage long-term possession of a single spot by only one party.”

U.S. Forest Service staff will be using discretion this fall when faced with enforcing the new special order, as they take into account the history of the old order and the distribution of information that the new order is now in place.

Visitors to the Medicine Bow National Forest should contact their local Ranger District for additional camping information or for updates on other factors that might influence camping, such as road closures.

*   Brush Creek-Hayden Ranger District, 2171 Highway 130, Saratoga, WY, (307) 326-5258
*   Douglas Ranger District, 2250 E. Richards Street, Douglas, WY, (307)358-4690
*   Laramie Ranger District, 2468 Jackson Street, Laramie, WY, (307)745-2300

Information may also be found on this website, http://fs.usda.gov/mbr, or you can follow the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests and Thunder Basin National Grassland on Twitter, @MBRNFsTBNG.

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