Herbert Hoover established Hutton Lake NWR in 1932. It was staffed until 1968 when it fell under the administration of the Colorado Arapaho NWR complex. Hutton is the only Laramie Plains WR open to the public.

A proposal to open Hutton NWR to waterfowl hunting is being considered. The comment period ends June 21, 2019.

One objective of the hunting proposal is to provide nearby hunting access for local communities. But, public hunting areas within 30 miles of the Refuge include Alsop Lake, Diamond Lake, Gelatt Lake, Meeboer Lake, and Twin Butte. In addition, Wyoming Game and Fish Department provides public access to waterfowl hunting in 2018 near Laramie on three privates ranches.

During the 2007 CCP planning process, the decision was made to keep the Refuge closed to hunting. This was because of insufficient knowledge about Refuge resources, lack of Refuge infrastructure for administering a hunt, and availability of other nearby waterfowl hunting opportunities. Since then, changes in priorities from the Secretary of the Interior have included developing new opportunities for hunting on national wildlife refuges. Clearly, the reasons behind the 2007 decision have not changed.

Over the past few years, the entrance signs to Hutton have been destroyed. To date, they have not been replaced. This is a good example of the questionable ability or desire to fund the expected hunting costs: up to $150,000 over 5 years.

The WGF Strategic Plan indicates that 30% of Wyoming residents hunt, 65% participate in wildlife viewing. Wyoming’s Waterfowl Management Area 3A extending from the Laramie Plains Lakes to Pathfinder had a total of 300 hunters in 2017. The hunting proposal estimates up to 20,000 visitors annually.

The number of hunters should be contrasted with the number of non-hunting visitors, the majority of which likely come from the local commuting area. This suggests that the local community uses and values the refuge for what it is. The proposal speaks for itself: there is no valid reason to open Hutton Lake NWR to hunting !

Sue Favret


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