Green River Star -

Our View: County is on the right side of debate

 


As a politician, it’s easy to find oneself on the wrong end of a newspaper editorial.

However, this week, we’re applauding the stance the Sweetwater County Commissioners have taken in opposing the land grab a few state legislators want to push.

Federally-managed lands comprise a majority of the land available in Sweetwater County.

A lot of that land is available for multiple uses and give residents and visitors the chance to recreate at treasured locations like Little Mountain, Pine Mountain and the Flaming Gorge Reservoir.

According to a 2015 study conducted by the University of Wyoming involving spending related to hunting and fishing, an estimated $14.2 million was added to the county’s economy.

We agree with the commissioners and fully support their efforts opposing the constitutional amendment that will be debated in Cheyenne. This is the time to raise up let the legislators pushing this amendment the residents of Sweetwater County oppose this amendment as it will not only jeopardize the way of life we enjoy in Sweetwater County.

The state can’t fiscally manage all of the federal lands within the state. Gov. Matt Mead disagrees with the amendment on those grounds. There is only one reason why some would pursue this sort of legislation: it’s a means to make money for a state otherwise hurting financially.

Some believe the oil and gas industry would come back if it didn’t have to deal with the bureaucratic red tape associated with the federal government. While it would be easier in some cases for the state to sell land for mineral development, the fear of residents not having access to lands they’ve traditionally recreated on becomes more real. While very few people in Sweetwater County would argue for oil and gas exploration on Pine Mountain, someone in Cheyenne would have less concern for the area and so long as the state made money off of the deal, we’re certain it wouldn’t matter what we think on the opposite side of the state.

States gaining access to federal lands inevitably sell them off. It’s a trend that can be seen in our neighbors in Utah and Colorado. This amendment is nothing more than a land grab scheme designed to put money into the state’s coffers. It’s not about regaining control.

Hopefully, others in the Wyoming Legislature will see that as well and vote accordingly to preserve Wyoming’s heritage of wide, open spaces.

 

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