The skeletal structure of the Wyoming Public Lands Initiative (WPLI)
Getting the lowdown on this process.
This is a collaborative, county-led initiative with the intent to result in one, statewide legislative package that is broadly supported by stakeholders in Wyoming i.e., YOU!
Let’s see if we can keep this simple.
The WPLI County Specific Committees
- Stakeholder seats on these county specific committees include, but are not limited to:
- General Public
- County Commissioners
(Holy cow there is already a HUGE diversity of interests here…..and they all have to agree!)
- The intent is to get a wide array of users to weigh-in on Wilderness Study Areas (WSA) and public lands within county borders to arrive at a fair and balanced legislative designation recommendation.
- This recommendation needs to be the result of equal input, with a focus on the long term well-being of the places and the heritage they stand for.
We need this recommendation that will ultimately be packaged into a legislative bill and presented to Congress to have a “collaborative effort” emphasis. Collaborative process means negotiations and trade-offs by the stakeholders.
“We have fallen heirs to the most glorious heritage a people ever received, and each one must do his part if we wish to show that the nation is worthy of its good fortune.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Since this is a county-led process the decision to opt in with this initiative has been left to the counties. Currently, nine have opted in (Albany, Campbell, Carbon, Fremont, Johnson, Natrona, Park, Sublette, and Teton) and three (Fremont, Sublette, and Park) have already formed committees and have hit the ground running!
The Committees will be tasked with considering the public land within their borders; their legislative recommendation does not speak for other counties that have not opted in, or for another county’s Wilderness Study Area. This means that each county will have the freedom to be creative with their designation/s and final recommendation. The congressional bill will write on how these lands should be used, protected and managed, the sky is the limit and creativity to reach a collaborative decision is encouraged! Remember….this will be a congressional bill not an agency level designation. The best part about this local boots on-the-ground effort is just that….it is a LOCAL boots on-the-ground effort.
This is a process and each county will be on its own timeline. Many feel this should be approached with a “go slow to go fast” scenario; meaning that if we do this right and take the time to have all options heard, discussed, and agreed or disagreed upon, it will be less likely to hit snags later on down the road.
The Wyoming County Commissioners Association states that this is NOT A BACKHANDED LAND GRAB. I have to stress this because this is one of the times local individuals have direct and lasting participation in federal land management. These Wilderness Study Areas are political sitting ducks, if we want ownership in what happens to our public lands, this is how we get it, through a public outreach and democratic process in which all parties have a piece of the pie. This initiative has the potential to go disastrously wrong or history making right …the element that determines the outcome is YOU.
Wyoming boasts some of the most incredible wild spaces, Wilderness, National Park, Recreation Areas, or just our own backyards. Our horizons are iconic to the rest of the world; we are the lighthouse of open spaces. We inspire writers, poets, artists, and even presidents (looking at you T.R.). Our wildlife is the stuff most hunters only ever dream of, and our hunting access to our public lands is the envy of our neighboring states. What I am trying to say is this; Wyoming’s public land is precious to every American in one way or another. The Wyoming Public Lands Initiative is a chance for YOU to be involved in a decision that will influence generations of public land users far into the future.
Are you a sportsman or sportswoman? Do you value your access and use of the public lands in Wyoming? If you answered yes to either of these, then the Wyoming Public Lands Initiative deserves … no…..NEEDS your attention. There are more options for participation then serving on the committee. Some counties have created sub-committees with the focus of one Wilderness Study Area to accommodate a higher intensity of discussion. All committee meetings are posted and open to the public. Please check the WWF Calendar for updates.