Saturday, December 10, 2016

Write your governor.

Letter I wrote to my Governor: Dear Governor Mead, 
I am writing to you with deep concern for this apparent trend in the GOP to sell off public lands. Wyoming's parks and forests make our state a very special place, and to sell these jewels off to the highest bidder will cut future generations off from a rich and varied natural habitat. Please stand up to the forces that would destroy this legacy. And please let me know of what I can do to help. Best, Amy Kathleen Ryan

Response I got a few weeks later:
Dear Ms. Ryan,
Thank you for your message to Governor Mead about state management of federal lands.  The Governor asked that I respond.
This year, a Wyoming Legislative Select Committee has been examining the effects of the state taking ownership and management responsibilities of federal lands.  Over half of the surface area and two-thirds of the subsurface of Wyoming is owned by the federal government.  This access to open, public land is a hallmark of Wyoming.  It has provided residents and others great opportunities to hike, fish, hunt and make a living for generations.  It also comes with certain challenges, such as slower economic development and decisions that are not necessarily in the best interests of citizens of Wyoming.
As the study of Wyoming taking ownership of federal lands within its borders has progressed, the Governor was asked in a recent interview his thoughts on the matter.  The Governor does not believe Wyoming’s constitution, its act of admission, requires the federal government to cede public land back to the state.  This of course varies from state to state.  
Wyoming has worked on a pilot project to manage a small tract of federal land for a specific purpose.  This was done in an area torched by forest fires.  Wyoming worked with the U.S. Forest Service to avert the spread of cheatgrass, an invasive weed.  This is an example of how Wyoming can work for the best management of federal land in coordination with the federal government.
Thank you again for your message. Please let me know if you have any further questions.

Colin McKee

So I followed up:

Hi Mr. Mckee, I do have further questions.

How can Wyoming fund the management of such huge portions of our state without the fiscal support of the federal government? A lot of people are afraid responses like yours are just doublespeak for a plan to transfer public lands into private hands so that corporate interests can "help" the economy by destroying a natural balance that can never be repaired. The very study the state commissioned reported that a sale of public lands to compensate for the cost of management would be almost inevitable, and then who is to stop the owners from destroying the precious habitat that hangs in the balance? Wyoming is unique. If it is "developed" it will be destroyed. You must know that. Some things are more important than money.

I would appreciate hearing more from you about this. 

Thank you, 

I have not yet received a response. I don't really expect to.

Update: Because a lot of people in Wyoming spoke out against this legislation, it was dropped. For now.