The Bureau of Land Management oversees the South Pass Area of Critical Environmental Concern, shown here, to protect historic and natural resources. Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) recently joined the Federal Lands Action Group, which will study transferring federal lands to states. (BLM/Bob Wick/Flickr Creative Commons)

Guest column by Buzz Hettick

Rep. Cynthia Lummis recently reported that she is supporting the newly established Federal Land Action Group. This group, led by Republican Reps. Rob Bishop and Chris Stewart of Utah, will review legislation forcing the transfer of federal lands to state ownership. Other supporters have little or no interest in the West and include Reps. Diane Black from Tennessee and Jeff Duncan from South Carolina.

This shows how out of touch Rep. Lummis is with her Wyoming constituents. In a recent poll from across the West over 70 percent of those responding opposed the transfer of federal public lands to states. Furthermore, 100-plus sportsmen’s and conservation groups are adamantly opposed to the transfer of public lands, including nearly all Wyoming-based groups.

This is hardly surprising, since most Western states have treated their state lands more like a real-estate business than as responsible stewards. The state of Wyoming already has sold 700,000 acres of the 4.2 million it was granted at statehood. Utah has peddled 3.8 million acres of state land there; as a result, 1 in every 3 acres of private land in Utah once was owned by the state. The same is true in Nevada, Colorado and elsewhere.

Further, the costs of a public lands transfer would heavily tax state budgets. The costs of road maintenance, firefighting and administration of those lands would bankrupt Wyoming. Despite the evidence, Lummis still chose to support this ridiculously poor idea.

This flies in the face of the actual facts. Hunting and fishing is a $1.1 billion annual industry in Wyoming. Factor in other tourism-based recreation on federal lands, and it balloons to $1.7 billion per year. Countless local communities and businesses rely on the recreational opportunities found on public lands to support all or a large portion of their businesses.

Let Rep. Lummis know she has an obligation to her Wyoming constituents, not an obligation to an action group with supporting members from Utah, Nevada, South Carolina and Tennessee. Tell her that your birthright and legacy of public lands is not to be squandered by the ridiculous idea of transferring public lands to the states.

— Buzz Hettick of Laramie, Wyoming, is chairman of Wyoming Backcountry Hunters & Anglers.

— Columns are the signed perspective of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of WyoFile’s staff, board of directors or its supporters. WyoFile welcomes guest columns and op-ed pieces from all points of view. If you’d like to write a guest column for WyoFile, please contact WyoFile editor-in-chief Dustin Bleizeffer at dustin@wyofile.com.

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  1. Wyoming’s congressional delegation serves the corporate masters who bought and paid for them. It doesn’t matter what we want. But of course, we will keep electing them.

    Richard Beckwith

  2. I agree with this article and believe the Federal Land Action Group has no real interest in the people or their concerns. First, you tell the public that this is not about privatization or locking people out of the federal lands. Once convinced and the land is in the hands of our state representatives, then slowly look for ways to rid the state of the enormous cost of maintaining those forest and rewarding our corporate supporters.

    In 2014, our Idaho representatives decided to cancel lake leases on Priest Lake and Payette Lake. Families that had those leases all of a sudden had to bid on the property and of course, the award went to the highest bidder. In many cases, the existing lease holder kept the property, but at what cost and hardship.

    Lets go back to 1978 in Wyoming. James Watts, a Republican appointment by Reagan, was made Secretary of the Interior. His radicalism did not take long to reveal his true intent. An example was his recommendation to open Yellowstone National Park to oil, gas, and mining exploration, as well as allow logging. Needless to say, he was removed from office.

    Lastly, when we hear of how badly the forest service is in managing our forests, lets remember that if Congress does not provide funding, its difficult to the service to perform and makes the service more vulnerable to criticism.

    As for Reagan, his statement of “how many trees do we need”, might give his reasoning for the Watt’s appointment. During this same time Reagan instructed the USFS to increase their clear cutting on federal lands with no regard to the size or ecology of this action. Take a ride on I-90 thru Snoqualmie Pass and see what his clear cut mindset created, all to reward corporate supporters. In all due respect to Reagan, he had many commendable attributes, but not when it comes to our federal lands and heritage.

    Bill Rise

  3. Dan Stroud is absolutely correct in his assessment of our two senators and one representative…their only loyalty is to those corporate interests who fund their political campaigns! Time and again, I have emailed them (all 3!) with concerns on various subjects and always receive a return email which assures me they value my opinion, but subtly letting me know that they are much smarter than I could ever hope to be, so don’t worry yourself about these matters! Not one of them has the people of Wyoming’s interests at heart…still, they keep getting elected to screw us even further!

    Even a citizen like myself knows that federal law takes precedence over state, but with our politicians in the grip of corporate interests, they can and will change laws to suit their needs over that of the citizenry! Disgusting bunch of unprincipled politicians will be the ruin of our public lands!

    Katherine Schock

  4. If you’ve written to Enzi or Borasso; you’d realize that Lummis is not alone in her misrepresentation.

    Dan Stroud