Wyoming Public Radio
Legislators Hold Private Meeting With Environmental Group Over Land Transfer Alternatives
By Melodie Edwards
On Monday night, about 20 legislators met with the Wyoming Wildlife Federation to discuss an alternative to a proposed public land transfer bill. The amendment is scheduled for introduction at the legislature and would allow the state to take over federal land management from agencies like the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.
Wyoming Wildlife Federation Board Chair Shane Cross said when his organization expressed disapproval of state land transfers to Senator Larry Hicks, a supporter of the amendment, Hicks surprised them with his own suggestion.
“He challenged the Wildlife Federation to put forth an alternative solution to the amendment that would address his concerns, which boil down to frustrations from local communities who feel like they don’t have a voice or they’re not being heard in respect to some public lands decisions,” said Cross.
Cross says, that’s when the Wildlife Federation invited Colorado Senator Kerry Donovan to the meeting to explain a bill that was passed there last year.
“[It] provided local government organizations, which included county commissions and conservation districts, with funding and technical assistance to create land use plans that give them a stronger voice in the federal decision making process,” said Cross.
Cross said the legislators seemed open to the idea of drafting a similar bill for Wyoming that would allow local communities to have more say in how federal lands are handled. Both sides agreed to begin work on an alternative bill for next year’s legislative session.
Cross said the hope is that such a bill could replace the need for a Wyoming constitutional amendment, allowing for it to be tabled.