A Quarter of Wyoming Needs A Land Manager

Nearly one-quarter of Wyoming is under Bureau of Land Management (BLM) oversight – many of us recreate, hunt, fish, and camp on these public lands. Here, the Federation’s Executive Director, Dwayne Meadows lends his take on the Senate confirming Tracy Stone-Manning as the director of the BLM.

Cover photo: Antelope bucks on Bureau Of Land Management land near Farson.

For the past four and a half years, the Bureau of Land Management has been without a Senate-confirmed director, which has left the agency rudderless at a critical time in our nation’s history. Here’s what that means for Wyoming: the BLM manages 18.4 million acres of public land and 42.0 million acres of the federal mineral estate in our state. Those lands provide vast opportunities for the economic well-being of the state and personal well-being of its residents. Things like mining, oil and gas development, renewable energy development, grazing, hunting, fishing, hiking, other outdoor recreation and much more. The land also provides valuable habitat for the largest sage grouse population in the world, the longest large ungulate migrations in the lower 48 states, and other important wildlife values.

Balancing all of these multiple and sometimes competing needs requires someone at the helm who recognizes the importance of all of these activities, and values the input of local communities most impacted by land management decisions. That’s why I was thrilled when my friend and colleague Tracy Stone-Manning was nominated to become the next BLM director. Tracy has a decades long track record of ignoring partisan politics, and working with people of all interests to find durable and workable solutions to some of our largest problems.

As the Director of the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, she helped ensure the permitting of a mine within a year—something remarkably fast considering how long those projects can take. As a staff member of Senator John Tester, she was integral in securing Congressional delisting of gray wolves after multiple courts held up the process, despite the best scientific data available showing delisting was warranted. She was also one of the architects of land management act in which ranchers, timber folks, outdoor recreationists, and local community members came together to develop a plan that would protect wilderness, open up new areas for snowmobiling and mountain biking, while safeguarding local timber and recreation jobs.

Tracy is a Westerner, a hunter, and a firm believer in the multiple-use mandates for public land management. She supports expanded recreational opportunities, grazing, responsible energy and mineral development, and ensuring there’s abundant wildlife for hunting and wildlife watching. She’s exactly who we need to lead the Bureau of Land Management: someone who understands the West and our way of life. Most importantly, Wyoming needs someone who recognizes its citizens know what’s best for our state, and will listen to and work with the people of Wyoming to come up with solutions to some of our most pressing challenges that we can all support.

Tracy is imminently qualified and is a true collaborator. But don’t just take my word for it. People from all walks of life have been weighing in on her nomination saying the same thing. A logger and Republican state senator in Montana, Chas Vincent, says where Tracy “will excel is her ability and her experience in collaboration and listening to both sides of an issue.” The owner of a coal mine in Montana says “she will serve the Bureau and the country well.” And 35 sporting groups with the American Wildlife Conservation Partners said “her deep understanding of the myriad land management challenges before the agency make her uniquely qualified to lead the BLM.”

The verdict is clear: Tracy Stone-Manning will provide the balanced, solutions-oriented leadership that the Bureau of Land Management needs. I — along with anyone that’s had the pleasure of working with her over the past several decades — encourage Senators Barrasso and Lummis, and the rest of the U.S. Senate, to confirm her swiftly.

Tune in to WWF channels to learn more about the coming BLM Rock Springs Resource Management Plan. When it arrives, please voice your perspective to ensure we keep this incredible part of Wyoming wild.