Red Desert

Melodie Edwards

When you think of Wyoming landscape art, it's probably not of fracking sites or abandoned man camps. But two Laramie artists feel it’s time to take a hard look at all of Wyoming’s landscapes. My artist husband and I decided to camp out with painter Pat Kikut and mixed media installation artist David Jones at their desert studio, somewhere north of Wamsutter.

Melodie Edwards

When I was a kid, my dad worked in an oilfield somewhere near Killpecker Sand Dunes in the northern Red Desert near Rock Springs. One day, my brother and I got lost out in the sand. One of my dad’s fellow roughnecks had to come rescue us. So I am a little nervous in the Red Desert. But today I’m conquering my fears. I’m flying in a tiny plane crammed with five others over those very same sand dunes.

Dan Hayward

Wyoming’s Red Desert has become an increasingly popular destination for nature photographers. Dan Hayward has been taking pictures of that vast landscape—from the ground and from the air—for three years. On Friday, he’ll present his work in a slide presentation at Central Wyoming College in Riverton. Wyoming Public Radio’s Micah Schweizer spoke with Hayward about his work in the Red Desert.

Joe Kiesecker

The Bureau of Land Management is considering protecting some areas in the Red Desert because of their scenic qualities.

The agency’s Sheila Lehman says they’re considering amending the Rawlins Resource Management Plan, to limit development on parcels of land with important wilderness characteristics.

“There’s the potential to maybe be able to preserve it a little bit more, or by mitigating certain things to keep that quality – that wilderness quality,” Lehman said.

Environmental groups are pleased.

A new report released today by the Wilderness Society says Wyoming’s Red Desert and the Wyoming Range are too special to drill for oil and gas. The report – titled Too Wild to Drill – lists a dozen locations across the U.S. 

The Wyoming Range was initially opened for leasing in 2005, but the Forest Service canceled those leases in 2011. Appeals by operators have left the leases in limbo since then, but the U-S Forest Service is expected to decide later this year whether they will allow energy development.