Space is Wyoming’s defining characteristic. To each resident, it bestows a legacy of open landscapes and endless vistas. Where the casual visitor sees emptiness, most Wyomingites see a land teeming with life, memory and purpose. Across those spaces is written the history of our great state – the tepee rings and signature rocks; the enduring ruts of the historic emigrant trails and abandoned, sun-burned homesteads; the played out mining camps and outlaw hideouts. Wherever we are, Wyoming’s landscapes connect us to our past.
What makes a big landscape cultural or historic? These landscapes show evidence of the people who lived there and impacted the land. To determine whether something might qualify as a cultural landscape under NRHP criteria, you need to look at the linkages, the connective tissue that holds the landscape together. One of the issues to be considered is spatial organization. Where do things occur within the landscape? Organization does not have to be elaborate but it will show how humans have interacted with the area. Other things to consider are the circulation patterns (what binds the landscape together?), the topography, the vegetation (native or imported), water features (natural or manmade), the views and vistas (natural or manmade) and the land patterns (rigid or generic). One of the most difficult aspects in nominating a cultural landscape to the National Register is the ﬁxing of defensible boundaries.
Protecting these special spaces is central to AHW’s mission. Working with land management agencies, we help ensure that these spaces can continue to tell Wyoming’s rich story to future generations. Our Greater South Pass Historic Landscape campaign works to protect the heart of the Oregon Trail while our Historic Landscapes Initiative promotes innovative ideas for saving our cultural landscapes. You can also explore our current projects list.
Learn more about some of Wyoming's unique cultural landscapes by reading some of our historic spaces profiles.
Research and resource tools are key to our endeavors to preserve, conserve, and protect historic buildings and landscapes in Wyoming. We encourage you to explore the resources below, and to roll up your sleeves for the important work involved in historic preservation. From teaching school kids about the concepts of preservation to launching a preservation project, we can help you make a difference.
Preservation of cultural landscapes
Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO)
National Register of Historic Places
Federal Historic Preservation Laws
Let us know contact link if our skills and experience can help protect the spaces that matter to you and your community.
The National Conservation Lands are composed of 31 million acres of public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management. National Conservation Lands are lands that exist outside of national parks but are still extremely ecologically and culturally rich. These places, mostly large and pristine landscapes, are largely found throughout the West. America’s newest collection of protected public lands and waterways stands alongside our national parks and wildlife refuges as guardians of America’s heritage.
The National Conservation Lands include National Monuments and National Conservation Areas, Wilderness and Wilderness Study Areas, Wild and Scenic Rivers, National Scenic and Historic Trails, of which Wyoming has many. These nationally significant lands embody freedom, discovery, and shared cultural heritage.
This collection of protected public lands protects and preserves America’s sacred sites and cultural history. Wyoming boasts many historic trails including but not limited to the Oregon, California, Mormon Pioneer, Pony Express, Lander, Bozeman, and Nez Perce trails. A remarkable 60% of the Oregon, California, Mormon Pioneer, and Pony Express trails are on public lands managed by the BLM. Wyoming has an incredible amount of cultural resources preserved on Conservation Lands. See where they are located around the state here. In addition to the trails themselves, Wyoming also has the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center outside of Casper, Wyoming. The center is the result of a cooperative partnership between BLM, the National Historic Trails Center Foundation, and the City of Casper. The NHTIC looks to educate the public about the role historic trails played in shaping the history of the United States..
The trails within the National Conservation Lands have been designated for protection, but they are also incredibly vulnerable. They face threats from industrial activities, like oil and gas drilling and wind energy fields, and from irresponsible off-road vehicle use. They are subject to looting, vandalism, and neglect. Working together we can reduce these threats with on-the-ground work, partnerships and advocacy.
Friends Grassroots Network of the conservation lands foundation
Conservation starts with community, and history has shown that places are best protected when there is a group of local citizen advocates to lead the effort. We as members of the Friends Grassroots Network do critical, on-the-ground work to steward and protect the National Conservation Lands. The Friends Grassroots Network also uses our collective voice as a national network to advance strong conservation management policies and practices. In 2014 the Friends Grassroots Network collectively raised over $2 million to support this work.
What We've Achieved
• AHW conducts statewide preservation needs assessment.
• AHW pioneers the concept that “historic preservation” applies to public lands and public spaces as well as historic buildings.
• AHW provides detailed information and action alerts to help individuals react and respond to issues of importance in public land management.
• AHW participates in week-long BLM-sponsored survey of cultural resources around South Pass.
• AHW launches campaign to protect the Greater South Pass Historic Landscape.
• AHW partners with the Oregon-California Trails Association to circulate petition urging long-term protections for the Greater South Pass Historic Landscape.
• AHW pioneers the concept of NEPA-level off-site compensatory mitigation for cumulative adverse impacts through its Historic Landscapes Initiative.
• AHW organizes event to honor Gaynell and Norm Park for their work in preserving Independence Rock and opening it to the general public.
• AHW partners with the State Historic Preservation Office, the Advisory Council for Historic Preservation and others on multiple projects to ensure the public interest is protected when development negatively impacts cultural resources on public lands.
• AHW is praised for its innovative concepts in mitigation for projects on public lands.
- AHW participates in negotiations leading to the creation of New Fork River Crossing Historical Park as mitigation for the Pinedale Anticline expansion.
- AHW enters into Cooperative Service Agreement with Grand Teton National Park to facilitate resource management and protection within the park.