Friday, April 10, 2015

What They Really Want

     Last month I spent a couple of days in the hill country of Texas between San Antonio and Austin. I had a blast. I met some wonderful people. I ate my weight in BBQ. I saw whitetails and black vultures and quail and the south end of a northbound armadillo. I’d like to have seen the north end, too. It wasn’t like he was moving very fast. But I couldn’t get off the road right of way. It’s all private land there.
       Anyone who knows much about the history of Texas knows that there’s almost no public land there. It goes way back before statehood, even before the Republic of Texas to the days of the old Spanish land grants. It’s not going to change. It’s not bad. It’s not good. That’s just the way it is in Texas.
       But that’s not the way it is in Wyoming. Just about half our state is public land. Your land, my land, our kids’ land. And that, my friends, is both the blessing and the curse. It’s a blessing because we can hunt and fish and ride our horses and our ATVs and our snowmobiles and we can lose ourselves in the great wide open without ever having to ask anyone for their permission. It’s a curse because there are people who want those public lands.
They want Wyoming to be like Texas. They will tell you otherwise. They’ll tell you it’s all about their distrust of the federal government and their regulatory over-reach and their distance from the customs and culture of Wyoming. They say that replacing these federal agencies with state agencies will make things better. Some of them – politicians mostly – actually believe that. But they aren’t the ones calling the shots on this one. They’re being manipulated by people outside Wyoming.     
     The people driving this don’t live here. They’re big spenders who stand to make even bigger bucks by taking over the management of lands we hunt and fish on. Check out the American Lands Council. Check out American Legislative Exchange Council. Snoop around a bit on the internet. Follow the money. And then ask yourself, “Why would they want the state to take over the BLM and Forest Service land in Wyoming?” There’s only one answer. Because they want it.
      They want it, but they don’t necessarily want to pay for it. So how can they do that? Put it in the hands of someone they can bully. Put it in the hands of someone they can manipulate. Put it in the hands of the state. State lands in Wyoming are managed by the Office of State Lands and Investments. But the purse strings are controlled by the legislature. Is that who you want deciding land management policy on your public lands? They won’t be able to do it. And when they can’t, the same folks who were all about state control will be the ones who will push to privatize those lands. It will be privatized. And once it’s private, it’s private forever. And Wyoming will be just like Texas.


  1. I didn't grow up in Texas, but lived there to become an outdoor person camping, fishing and hiking, I moved to a public lands state( New Mexico) and have never looked back and can't imagine moving back unless I was able to purchase a huge amount of land myself.

    1. NM is a great place, Devon. It's a lot like WY in a lot of ways, especially in the role public lands play in the lives of real families. Thanks for the comment!