Cloud seeding plan for the Wind River Range stirs fears

The Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts wants to try cloud seeding to increase snowfall over the tall Wind River Range (the highest mountains in Wyoming).

Because the Winds are mostly designated Wilderness, this human modification is controversial. However, by far the largest change to the range is the huge increase in human pollution just beneath the Winds from the massive natural gas developments.

Cloud seeding is controversial because if it works it can harm stream beds and wildlife habitat and probably robs downwind areas of precipitation. However, Wyoming has been seeding clouds over the Salt River Range for years, and storms usually pass over this Idaho/Wyoming border ranger before reaching the Winds. Would cloud seeding even things out?

Story in the Jackson Hole News and Guide by Cory Hatch.

Crest of the Wind River Range. Bridger Wilderness Area. Copyright Ralph Maughan







  1. kt Avatar

    Once again, manipulation of natural processes to produce cows in the arid West. That’s the reason behind this cloud seeding. Human domestic water or other uses are likely only a fraction of a percent of the use for irrigated agriculture to grow cattle.

    Plus,livestock grazing on public lands in watershed across the hydrologic basins affected by this proposal results in increased desertification (as described in the recent United Nations report on Global Warming: “Livestock’s Long Shadow” and more rapid runoff – and NOT slow, sustained release.

    Instead of rushing to do a CE here, the Forest should analyze resting these watersheds from grazing for awhile, and see how the watersheds may change.

    Does anyone know how much of the runoff from these drainages goes for irrigated cow pasture downstream? Or how many stock ponds and spring developemnts and pipelines ouside the Wilderness on public land divert and alter downstream flows? Is there a study for the water budget and uses for the area that might benefit?

  2. Mike Avatar

    I find this story to be disturbing on several levels. First, if pollution is interrupting the natural process in the Winds, then you need to cut back on the gas wells.

    If seeding can help the snowpack, that’s a good thing. But if it harms the streams and habitat, it’s probably not worth it.

    With the new congress, perhaps we can work to get some sort of bill passed that will remove some of theover-abundance of gas wells in pristine areas.

    Great picture too. It makes you feel like you are there.

  3. Mike Avatar

    Also, Ralph I noticed you changed the site. Were you not happy with the previous look? I like both styles, so I’m just curious.

  4. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I thought the old theme wasted a lot of space. It also would not let me post a photo wider than 500 by X pixels.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan