Sweetwater Economic Development Coalition

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Sweetwater Economic Development Coalition


No “Pot of Gold” at the End of the Federal Land Transfer Rainbow

In a case of apparently self-induced mass hypnosis, numerous Wyoming elected officials seem to think there is a “pot of gold” available if they could just be allowed to manage our Federal Public Lands.  A recently released study, wisely funded by the Wyoming Legislature, reveals the nonsense that is in the proposed Federal Land Transfer. The study points out that the numerous difficult issues in Public Land administration, currently accomplished by the USFS and US BLM, are largely a function of the laws enacted by our Congress.  Whomever manages the lands would have to comply with these extensive, sometimes contrary laws.   These laws include FLPMA, Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act, Wild Horse Act and a hundred more. Whomever is responsible for compliance will require a staff similar to the ones already in existence at the Federal level to legally manage the lands.   Any state program would entail Federal oversight and we citizens would end up paying for two bureaucracies, one to watch the other.

Wyoming Public Lands ownership is in the hands of the people and that includes people in 49 other states, many of whom have an interest in “their” Wyoming lands.  If it came to a vote Wyoming would lose 49 to 1.

There is not a “pot of gold” under the Federal Public Lands. If there were, someone would have already filed a mineral claim, submitted a mine plan and would be out recovering the resource. The last forty year history of mining federal coal in Wyoming shows how successful the existing system can be. It has generated almost unimaginable wealth for the state and its citizens in those 40 years. There are significant issues with the current management system and likely always will be. This 40 year history show the system works.

The study suggests that our resources would be better spent on working within the existing system to further whatever management outcomes are desired. It lists specific actions that could be taken to that end. The study reveals in great detail the costs of the current system and what a future duplicate cost might be.

Those who are frustrated with the current management systems are encouraged to get involved with that system rather than chasing the pot of gold they think lies at the end of the Federal Land Transfer Rainbow.