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Field & Stream, Trout Unlimited name West's 'Best Wild Places'

July 26, 2010 |  3:34 pm

The western part of the Roan Plateau is dissected by the canyon of the East Fork of Parachute Creek.

Field & Stream and Trout Unlimited recently named the "Best Wild Places" in the western United States. The six locations are all located on public lands and are considered the finest intact public wildlife habitat remaining in the American West. Each is also, unfortunately, facing some sort of threat to its existence.

"Americans have a unique opportunity to visit some of the nation's best wild places because they're located on public lands," said Anthony Licata, editor of Field & Stream

Both Trout Unlimited and Field & Stream are running a series of online features that detail each of the destinations, providing virtual tours, travel information, hunting and fishing opportunities, wildlife viewing tips, and information on how to get involved in the effort to protect these areas. The magazine will also feature all six destinations in an article in the December/January issue.

"These are high-quality landscapes that offer some unique fishing and hunting opportunities on public lands all across the West," said Chris Hunt, of Trout Unlimited's Sportsmen's Conservation Project. "But they all face challenges that could significantly degrade the quality of the experience. They need a hand from sportsmen and -women to ensure the continuation of our hunting and fishing heritage."

The Best Wild Places are listed after the jump.

Roan Plateau, Colorado

Situated near the town of Rifle, Colo., the Roan Plateau is home to some of the state's best trophy mule deer and elk hunting opportunities, as well as two populations of genetically pure and unique Colorado River cutthroat trout.

Much of the Roan has been leased for oil and gas drilling, and the current plan, while on hold due to court proceedings, would likely impact both water quality and big-game migration corridors.

Outlaw Triangle, Utah, Wyoming and Colorado

So named because Butch and Sundance used this country as a hideout, it' s located on the border of northeast Utah and southwest Wyoming. This unique complex of high-desert steppe and canyon country is priceless to anglers and hunters the world over. The Green River below Flaming Gorge is likely the West's top tailwater fishery. 

Alpine Triangle, Colorado

This high-country area in Colorado's San Juan mountains is not only a destination for bighorn sheep, elk and deer hunters as well as backcountry trout anglers, it's home to ghost towns, abandoned mines and historic late 1800s structures. 

The area is drawing the attention of the hard-rock mining industry, which could affect the area's sporting resources.

Gila Country, New Mexico

This vast region of remote territory is home to deer, elk and turkey hunting, plus fishing for native Gila trout and other game fish.

Unfortunately, the area is being harmed by off-road vehicle use. Trout Unlimited is hoping to designate legal and legitimate off-road trails while either relocating or closing trails that impact fish and game, as well as fishing and hunting.

Cabinet-Yaak Mountains, Montana

The Cabinet-Yaak Mountains rise along the northwest Montana border with Idaho and includes some of the best wild country left in the Treasure State. Home to deer, elk, moose and other game animals, as well as west slope cutthroat trout and bull trout, the region is truly wild.

Blue Lakes and the Pine Forest Range, Nevada

This unique high-elevation lake chain in northwest Nevada offers anglers the opportunity to catch tiger trout in an alpine setting. The Pine Forest range also offers hunting for chukar, sage grouse, and mule deer, and has potential for elk and bighorn sheep.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: The western part of the Roan Plateau is dissected by the canyon of the East Fork of Parachute Creek. Credit: Colorado Environmental Coalition