Your Land in Private Hands: House Bill 228 is a “Gift” From Fremont County Republicans

SONY DSCWhile the attention of many who hunt has been distracted by the shiny object of politics—gun regulations—our Fremont County Republican legislators have been working quietly to change Wyoming’s relationship with the public lands that we love. House Bill 228, “creating a task force on the transfer of federal lands” and “requiring a report from the attorney general on possible legal recourses available to compel the federal government to relinquish ownership and management of specified federal lands,” has flown through both the House and the Senate and now awaits the Governor’s signature.

If that sounds like an attack on our right to recreate on public lands then the membership of the task force prescribed in HB 228 is downright ominous—two members of the Wyoming Senate, two from the House, and then, appointed by the Governor: one county commissioner, an individual from oil and gas, one from mining, one from agriculture and, finally, one from travel and recreation. To further illuminate the true intent of the bill’s authors it specifies that the University of Wyoming’s School of Energy provide advisory support. Not the Ag School. Not the School of Environment and Natural Resources. Just Energy. This does not sound like a balanced study.

Having all of our public lands under state management is not a step forward for wildlife and recreation in Wyoming. Our state land managers are good people who do the best that they can with a limited staff and limited budgets, but as a hunter who enjoys many fall days on public lands the difference between lands managed by the BLM and our state lands is obvious to the eye. Oftentimes, a mere fence line separates over-used state land from federally managed ground with good cover and ample forage. But it gets worse.

If you “look under the hood” of the original House Bill 228 it is even more concerning. The required study would explore the creation of a commission to administer the process for “the state of Wyoming, other entity or private individuals to receive title to formerly federally owned and managed lands from the United States” and “establish procedures and requirements for subjecting formerly federally owned and managed lands to property taxation.” This is not a bill that just looks at switching the management of our public lands from the feds to the state, it is looking at taking the land that you and I hunt, fish and backpack on and turning it over to private interests.

House Bill 228 means less access and poorly managed lands. And we get all of this for the low, low price of $30,000, the cost of the “study.” And of course there is the minor problem of the Feds never having expressed any interest in turning over the land to the state. House Bill 228 is fiscal mismanagement, belligerence and bad policy all in one nice package.

Sadly, this industry land grab has its roots right here in Fremont County. Representative David Miller of Riverton, Representative Lloyd Larsen of Lander and Senator Eli Bebout of Riverton are House Bill 228 co-sponsors. Their Fremont County Republican colleagues—Senators Case and Geis, and Representatives Winters and Campbell—have joined them in voting for this wasteful, quixotic gift to the extractive industries. The only elected official from Fremont County to vote against the bill was Democratic Representative Patrick Goggles.

This second coming of the Sagebrush Rebellion is out of the gate now. If you hunt, fish, ATV or backpack on public lands, beware. Your recreation is under attack.

If you believe public lands belong in public hands, join us, “Turn Fremont Blue.”

Related Story: Casper Star-Tribune: Wyoming may look at ways to manage federal land

New York Time Opinion Piece: Lone Star Blues

Blue Texas“But that requires ground troops, voter education and turnout efforts over a multicycle campaign. It also requires that Democrats stop assuming they’re going to lose.”

 

That is the “money line” from the New York Times story, “Lone Star Blues.” Texas has been a primarily Republican state since LBJ. Demographics would indicate that could change, but still the hard work of building an organization has to be done. And you have to believe. Check out the story here.

Study Shows the Importance of Recreation to our Economy

Hunting, fishing, skiing, backpacking, cycling, you name it. When it comes to fun in the outdoors no place compares to Wyoming!

Hunting, fishing, skiing, backpacking, cycling, you name it. When it comes to fun in the outdoors no place compares to Wyoming!

Imagine Main Street, Lander, Wyoming without NOLS in the Noble Hotel, no Wild Iris, no Gannett Peak Sports, no Good Place. Recreation is a large contributor to the Lander economy. To Fremont County’s economy. To Wyoming’s economy. To the U.S. economy.

This report from the Outdoor Industry Association spells out the dollars and cents of the recreation economy.

Wyoming’s economy works best when the energy development, recreation and agriculture sectors are given equal footing in policy-making decisions.

Outdoor Recreation Economic Impact

New on TurnFremontBlue.com

A few new features have been added to the Fremont County Democratic Party website. Meeting minutes are now available on the website with the unapproved minutes of yesterdays meeting. If you weren’t there this is your chance to “stay in the loop.”

An “Events” page has now been added as well, featuring information on our upcoming March meeting.

Bookmark TurnFremontBlue.com for all of your Fremont County Democratic Party news and information.

Use the contact form to share your ideas for improving the website.

Rut-ro. Balanced Wyo. Life Resource Center Study in Jeopardy

The home of 90 of Wyoming's most vulnerable citizens is under attack.

The home of 90 of Wyoming’s most vulnerable citizens is under attack.

In the roller coaster ride that is our legislative process yesterday we went from the tremendous high of having the amended bill that would assure a balanced study of the Wyoming Life Resource Center sail through the Senate to just a few hours later having the amended bill trounced when it went back to the House for concurrence. The original House Bill 68 called for a study to transition clients out of the WLRC to community based programs or nursing homes. The Senate amended bill takes a different, and better ,approach requiring a balanced study on effectively and efficiently meeting the care needs of the clients of the WLRC. Without House concurrence the bill now goes to a conference committee to negotiate a compromise and then be returned to both chambers for a vote. This compromise could be the original House bill. Or it could be the amended Senate bill. Or it could be something in between. Or there could be no compromise and it dies.

We need to encourage the conferees that the amended Senate bill is the best way forward. It is client centered and unlike the original bill it does not presume that best outcome for the residents of the WLRC is to moved from their home on campus. Click on the names below to be taken to each of the conferee’s profile and email address.

The House Conferees are Elaine HarveyLee FilerMatt Greene. Green and Harvey both voted against accepting the Senate amendments and Filer voted for. We should encourage Filer to hang in there with support of the amended bill and work to influence Harvey and Greene to agree to the amended version.
The Senate Conferees are Charlie ScottEli Bebout and Stan Cooper. All three voted for the amended bill. A thank you and encouraging word would be in order.

Onward!

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