Political News

Wyoming public land transfer booster gloomy on chances

Posted January 3

— A state lawmaker who is one of the most ardent supporters of Wyoming taking over federal land management doubts there is enough support in the state Legislature for a proposed constitutional amendment allowing such takeovers.

"It won't pass the two-thirds vote required out of the House or Senate," Rep. David Miller, R-Riverton, told the Casper Star-Tribune (http://bit.ly/2j53QtI ) in a story published Tuesday. "I think everyone's screamed loud enough."

The Legislature, which convenes Jan. 10 in Cheyenne, would need to pass a constitutional amendment and submit it to voter approval on the state taking over management of federal land.

Nick Dobric of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership said he believes only a few lawmakers are driving the issue, noting that at recent legislative meetings on the topic few people backed the constitutional amendment.

"Some of the legislators said that they want the state to be in control because there will be local input. Well, here's local input that we've been giving constantly. And they're not listening," Dobric said.

Wyoming's public lands contain mineral wealth that makes the state one of the most productive oil, gas and mining regions in the country.

But Miller and others contend the federal government hampers development of those sectors, costing Wyoming revenue.

Opponents, including conservationists and sportsmen, do not believe the state legally or practically could manage the federal lands spanning 25 million acres in the state.

The constitutional amendment, which is expected to be introduced for debate this month, would require public land transferred to Wyoming to be managed for multiple uses including hunting, fishing, energy development, grazing and other activities.

In mid-December, a legislative committee amended the proposal to appease opponents, who have shown up in force to meetings about the topic.

Amendments include a prohibition on the sale of public lands, except for public health or welfare purposes or to public entities.

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