Position Statement: WY BHA Opposes Transfer of Public Lands
During the last Legislative Session in Wyoming, HB228 was passed. Sponsored by House Representative David Miller of Riverton, this bill, referred to as the “Transfer of Public Lands Study” appropriated $30,000 to study the feasibility of transferring all Federal Lands in Wyoming to state and/or private ownership.
WY BHA strongly opposes attempts ‘transfer’ the public lands we all own and depend on – a proposal which would benefit a lucky few at the expense of many. The unmatched freedom and opportunity that Wyoming sportsmen and women enjoy is only possible through access to OUR public lands.
Federal public lands are vitally important to a wide range of recreational user groups, including hikers, anglers, bird watchers, hunters, campers, horse riders, outfitters, and a multitude of other recreational uses. While less than half of the land in Wyoming is publicly owned, according to a 2009 report by the Congressional Sportsmen Foundation, 89 percent of all Wyoming hunters hunt primarily on public land. Access to public land props-up the nearly 15,000 jobs that hunting and fishing support in Wyoming. It’s clear that Wyoming’s rich sporting traditions are what they are because of the public land we can all enjoy.
While the transfer of public lands would undoubtedly impact the freedom that Wyoming sportsmen enjoy, this ploy is also putting unnecessary legal and financial strain on the State of Wyoming. WYBHA finds it irresponsible for the State Legislature to appropriate $30,000 to fund a task force to study the transfer of Public Lands during this time of belt-tightening, stagnant economy, and budget woes – that $30,000 could have been put towards shoring up the Wyoming Game and Fish budget, State Parks, or improving wildlife habitat.
In addition, the Statutory Authority granted the U.S. Government to retain and manage Federal Public Lands (Taylor Grazing Act, Forest Reserves Act of 1891, National Forest Management Act, Resource Planning Act, etc.) is also not being considered. WYBHA supports these various Federal Acts and the Authority granted the U.S. Government to properly retain, fund, and manage Federal Lands for the benefit of not only the citizens of Wyoming, but also of the United States.
WY BHA strongly opposes this wrong-headed legislation. Let your elected officials know that YOUR public lands and sporting heritage is not for sale!
A task force, made up of State Senators Eli Bebout and Larry Hicks and Representatives David Miller and Kermit Brown, has been commissioned and will meet June 5th 2013 in Gillette, Wyoming to discuss this proposal. We invite WY BHA members to join the event and let your voice be heard!