Major doubts about the feasibility and viability of the public land takeover agenda were raised in a thorough – and costly – report commissioned by the Wyoming State Legislature and released to the public on October 18th.
The report, which cost Wyoming taxpayers a whopping $75,000, detailed numerous obstacles to the state taking over the management of federal owned lands within its borders.
The state of Wyoming paid $75,000 to hear what we’ve been telling them for free: It would be incredibly costly to take over management of these lands, far more than what could be brought in even through aggressive revenue generating activities that seriously threaten the public’s access to those lands.
According to the report, Wyoming would have to follow the same rules that federal land managers currently do, many of which are laid out in federal law, resulting in “an increase in management costs” for the state.
Further, looking to Congress to facilitate such a take over would be “an exceptionally drawn out and contentious process,” and “it would be unlikely that Wyoming would be able to keep all or more of the revenue generated on federal lands.” Not only that, but it would jeopardize the PILT and SRS payments that counties receive from the federal government, in some cases totaling millions of dollars per year.
Instead, the authors urge local officials to sincerely participate in the numerous public engagement processes that already exist. “The disconnect between the federal agencies and local communities needs to be addressed in a collaborative manner,” reads its conclusion, rather than a forced takeover.