The Wyoming Legislature is considering a few bills that affect hunters, anglers and other outdoor users during the general session, which is going on right now. Most of them would be beneficial if they’re passed in their current form, but there’s one that makes me a little leery.
That bill is Senate File 148, and it’s titled Federal Facilities Seizure. I’ve said before I’m against the state taking control of federal property that is currently open to the public. When states take over federal land, the management becomes the burden of the state, and states hardly ever have the funding to continue to protect the land. That land is then sold to private ownership, and public access is lost.
Senate File 148 is intended to temporarily take control of federal lands, like Yellowstone Park, in the event of a federal shutdown. The state would keep the park open and safe, until the Feds were back on duty. The danger in this bill is the cost. The bill sets aside $1 million for the seizure and operation of federal lands, until the Feds can come back and repay the expenditures. It’s an attempt to avoid the fiasco that happened last month in Yellowstone during the federal shutdown, but I’m not sure the cost of such an operation has been fully thought out.
The other bills would be good for hunting. House Bill 2 is intended to promote fair chase by outlawing thermal or infrared imaging, remote photography or video, and selling GPS locations of individual animals. Those things should be illegal, and this bill would make that happen. And House Bill 99 would designate the fourth Saturday of September as Wyoming Public Lands Day. It’s a no-cost move that would help get the word out that our hunting heritage, and other outdoor recreation, is dependent on open access to public land. Let your legislators know how you stand on these bills.