The State Board of Land Commissioners voted during its meeting last week to approve Laramie’s Cathedral Home for Children’s request for a firearm discharge restriction in the 360 acres of public land creating a horseshoe around the children’s treatment facility.
Nicole Hauser, executive director of the Cathedral Home, said the new ruling was a relief.
The Cathedral Home requested the restriction after noticing an increase of hunting activity in the area, especially for pronghorn. The gunfire was getting a little too close for comfort to the home’s school as well as the leased grazing area of the treatment facility’s horses and other animals, which are used for therapy for the children. Some hunters, Hauser previously told the Laramie Boomerang, would come dangerously close to the campus, and one even shot toward the buildings when trying to nab a pronghorn last year.
Some board members visited the site or at least drove by, including state Auditor Kristi Racines and Secretary of State Ed Buchanan, which Hauser said helped put some context to the request.
“That all really changed their perspective on the matter, so I think that was good,” Hauser said. “I think there was a lot of community support, a lot of focus on the issue.”
The SBLC initially voted against the restriction during its February meeting to give hunters and others more time for public comment. During the months between meetings, the Cathedral Home gathered support from the Laramie City Council, the Albany County Commission, Albany County Sheriff Dave O’Malley and various local state representatives.
Hauser said the outpouring of support caught her by surprise, and she wished she had reached out for the support back in February. She said she’s still hearing about letters sent by a variety of community members to the SBLC for its August meeting.
“I learned a lot that our community will definitely rally around those types of efforts,” she said. “Reaching out to people because they’re willing to help and lend their support is something that I definitely took away that I wish I would’ve done the first go around.”
The restriction will be in effect for the 2019 antelope season, and Hauser said the State Land Offices have been working with the Cathedral Home to put up signage to alert hunters of the restriction. Additionally, information on the State Land Office’s website will be updated to reflect the change.
The restriction does not prohibit hunting on the land with a bow or other forms of outdoor recreation, and only applies east of Wyoming Highway 30. The portion of the public land west of the highway will remain open for firearm use.