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WYO Group: Make Sure Development Doesn’t Hitch a Ride on Historic Trails

October 8, 2007

Wyoming's South Pass is still covered with well-worn horse paths and wagon ruts from Native American, Oregon, Mormon, Pioneer and Pony Express trails, and a local group wants to make sure development doesn't hitch a ride on the track. Barbara Dobos with the Alliance for Historic Wyoming says although the trails are designated as special by Congress, it is in name only and there are no clear boundaries through the South Pass.

"We're trying to put it all together and say this is the finest segment on the National Historic Trail with all the trails, essentially, on the same track."

Dobos says the area is the largest chunk of preserved historic trail anywhere in the nation, but she knows from Wyoming history that development pressure will likely grow in the years to come.

"The country looks much as it did 100 years ago. There is really no threat, right now, of mineral development. Hopefully, that won't be exploited."

Petitions are being circulated to ask the Bureau of Land Management to designate the trail as a National Historic Landmark. Dobos says the B.L.M. could set the boundaries without changing the way the land is used now, or imposing rules on private land in the area. She says her group is focusing on the stretch of trail from Independence Rock to Farson.

Deborah Smith/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WY