Keep our public lands public

I realize this might not be a very popular stance in Wyoming right now, but I’ve been silent on it for far too long. It’s time to take a stand for the protection of our public lands.

I’m not a big fan of one-size-fits-all federal oversight. I also tend to be skeptical of people in Washington, D.C., telling us how things should be out here on the other side of the continent.

But I do not think it’s a good idea for the states to take over management of lands that are currently governed by the Feds.

The states have more to worry about than public lands. They have to pay for highways, education, health care, and a host of other very expensive responsibilities. If they find themselves having to pay for more land management, you can rest assured public lands will fall to the bottom of the list.

The proponents of transferring the lands to state ownership say selling off these lands is not the goal. They say the states can manage them just fine. But if that’s the case, why has Idaho sold off 33 percent of its state trust lands, according to research by Trout Unlimited? Why has Utah sold 55 percent? And why has Oregon sold 77 percent of its state trust lands?

If the idea is that people are frustrated with how the lands are being managed, speak up. That’s the beauty of these federally managed lands. We have a voice. The land managers aren’t out there in D.C. – they live and work on those very public lands. The system in place is designed to allow the public to have a say in how those lands are managed. We may not always get our way, but we do have a chance to speak up. If those lands are transferred to states and sold to private interests, our voice is silenced.

If you hunt, fish, camp, hike, or do anything at all on public lands, speak up. Keep them public. Keep them protected. Keep them for future generations.

 

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