Public lands: a shared heritage

Public lands provide high-paying quality jobs and significant tax revenues from mineral resources that drive the economy in Lincoln County. As Commissioners, we have witnessed the benefits federal public lands provide residents and non-residents alike.

As avid outdoorsmen we also know that public lands provide enjoyment, adventure and opportunities to strengthen family bonds and friendships through hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation in the natural beauty and vast wide open spaces in Wyoming.

Lincoln County works closely with the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management offices, and we view them as key partners in providing opportunity in our county. We recognize the importance of putting our differences aside and finding common ground to safeguard a diversified economy and maintain a balanced approach to energy development and access to public lands.

Wyoming communities are growing and the populations of our neighboring states are expanding. Competition for public land resources is increasing, making multiple-use management more complex. This management complexity makes it difficult for federal agencies to deliver balanced land-use decisions that competing stakeholders can accept and find agreement. We must work together as diverse stakeholders to ensure sustainable outcomes for local economies and our shared outdoor heritage.

Energy independence for our nation creates jobs and forms the foundation of our economy. In Lincoln County, we believe the best economy is a diversified economy. Energy development can occur within the same landscape as world-class hunting, fishing and the booming outdoor recreation industry that is essential to Lincoln County and Wyoming residents.

Treasured landscapes like Wyoming Range tell the stories of all Americans and help drive our $887 billion outdoor recreation economy. There are federal processes that need adjustment, but we don’t want to go backward and undo the bed rock conservation laws that provide our children and grandchildren access to quality hunting, fishing, and the uninterrupted view sheds across Wyoming’s vast wide open spaces.

Because so much is at stake, we have made a conscious effort to partner with federal agencies and the local people who staff them. We have bi-monthly breakfast meetings with federal agencies, congressional representatives and local business partners.

We conduct an annual meeting with the federal agencies to exchange work programs, discuss accomplishments and concerns and to strengthen working relationship.

The participating federal agencies include the High Desert BLM, the Bridger-Teton National Forest, the Provo Area Bureau of Reclamation Office and the USFWS Cokeville Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. Additionally, we take every opportunity to participate in the public processes that govern public lands decision making. We work through the existing National Environmental Policy Administration process by taking advantage of the cooperating agency opportunities to participate as an agency partner in developing plans, EIS and EA documents.

We have adopted a county comprehensive plan that contains policies of addressing federal lands and we have public lands planners and consultants to track and prepare county commission comments on pertinent federal land issues and provide outreach and actively participate in planning processes.

Most importantly, we have committed to work together through the use of the BLM Master Leasing Plan process which incorporates feedback from a diverse group of local stakeholders to address potential conflicts and find solutions early in the process.

Balancing our public lands economy with conserving our Wyoming way of life is not easy; but it is worth doing.

It might be easier to advocate for one use or the other, or simply do nothing and heap blame on the forest service or BLM. We choose to work harder, to do our very best for our county, our country and our children.

There may not be firm guarantees for our future generations, but in Lincoln County, County Commissioners are doing our best to ensure that federal public lands will provide quality multiple use opportunities for our future generations.

Lincoln County Commissioners

Robert E. King

Kent Connelly

Jerry T. Harmon


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