Environment Overview

Wyoming is rich in natural resources and Western heritage. Its history is etched on rock walls by story-telling Native Americans and across the rolling plains by wagon wheel ruts. The landscape is as varied as its energy resources. Windswept prairies and flat croplands yield to large expanses of sagebrush steppe and majestic mountains. Our abundant natural resources, world-class destinations and open spaces are enjoyed by residents and visitors alike. 

A State of Firsts

Early on, Yellowstone National Park, Devils Tower National Monument, and the Shoshone National Forest were recognized by the U.S. Congress for unique attributes worthy of preservation. They were made the nation’s first national park, national monument, and national forest, respectively. 

Today, Wyoming continues to be a state of firsts. Our efforts to maintain balance have led to Wyoming becoming the first state to require disclosure of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, implementation of model sage-grouse conservation efforts, and air quality strategies for oil and gas development, to name a few. Rather than waiting for the federal government to identify a problem and offer one-size-fits-all regulations, we look to our own state and our local values to find the right solutions.

Wyoming recognizes that our energy, environment and economy are inextricably linked. A healthy energy industry and environment are critical to a vibrant state economy. When energy development and production falters, our economy suffers. When environmental concerns develop, the energy industry faces restrictions.

Agriculture

Besides producing food and offering economic stability, Wyoming’s agriculture creates open space, provides wildlife habitat, and is the heritage visitors expect from a western state. Wyoming ranks first nationally in the average size of agricultural operations and eleventh in total land area committed to farming and ranching. There are 11,000 farms and ranches covering 30.2 million acres with an estimated 1.3 million head of cattle and 365,000 head of sheep. The most important crops are hay, sugar beets, dry beans, corn and wheat.

The Headwaters and the Dry High Plains

Wyoming is the headwaters for four major river basins—the Missouri River, Colorado River, Snake-Columbia, and Great Divide Basin. The 280,804 miles of streams and 569,269 acres of lakes, reservoirs, ponds and wetlands provide sanctuaries for wildlife and enjoyment for outdoor enthusiasts. Wyoming’s residents, visitors, industries and agriculture depend on clean, available water. As with Wyoming’s energy resources which other states depend on, thirsty states downstream depend on our water resources. Despite being a headwaters state, Wyoming is also a semi-arid state—in some places an actual desert. Water is one of our most important resources.

Wildlife

Internationally known for abundant and diverse wildlife, Wyoming is home to over 800 species. Over 525,000 pronghorn antelope; 427,000 mule deer; 103,000 elk; 60,000 white-tailed deer; 7,400 moose, and 5,400 bighorn sheep live here. There are 77 species of fish found in Wyoming waters, including 12 species of game fish. For people living in the midst of such abundance, wildlife has become a central part of Wyoming’s identity, culture, and economy. Wyoming residents have among the highest participation rates for wildlife-related activities in the nation. About 18 percent of Wyoming residents hunt, 27 percent fish, and 38 percent view wildlife.

Opportunities

There are over 12,500 square miles of national forest in Wyoming and 4,500 square miles of designated wilderness. In total, the federal government, primarily the Bureau of Land Management, manages more than 46,000 square miles of land in Wyoming. Nearly two-thirds of the mineral estate in Wyoming is managed by the federal government. Often, public lands and mineral estates are intermixed with private lands, creating a checkerboard effect that causes administrative and regulatory challenges. The sheer size of our agricultural operations, the many natural features and wonders, and the abundance of wildlife necessitate that energy development be done responsibly. Besides, the people here would not have it any other way. Maintaining our commitments to preserving our heritage, conserving our natural resources, and protecting our air, land and water are the highest responsibilities of the state.  

Our Charge

  • Be the standard bearer in responsible development

  • Conserve our natural resources and heritage

Virtual Tour

Monitor the Initiatives Dashboard

Stay up to date on the progress and status of each of the 45 initiatives of the Energy Strategy.