Wyoming entered into 2011 with a blast of cold air and harsh winds that blew the Christmas snow into drifts in sizes we have not seen in a long time in the Casper area. Some were even looking for Al Gore and a good dose of global warming.
Matt Mead has been sworn in as our new governor, and we wish him and his family well in the next four years, as we also do for all the newly elected officeholders of the state. We hope their biggest issues are how to spend a budget surplus we all hope the state will have in the future. We thank our past governor for the time he served the state. As with all past governors, he kept us moving ahead, even in hard financial times, and he has stood up to Washington, D.C., something all of our governors learn they have to do if they want to spend another four years in the Wyoming Capitol.
We can be thankful that the lame duck Congress only had a month to stay in session. That was one spooky session that caused some to rethink, and maybe even consider eliminating, the lame duck session altogether. I guess it all depends on what side of the fence you’re on, but I think we all realize the original intent of having a lame duck session has been breached, as have other laws.
Such was the case this past month when Interior Secretary Ken Salazar issued a new “rule” or regulatory change to direct the Bureau of Land Management to survey the lands it manages in the western states, looking for areas of public lands that can be designated as “wild lands.” Protection on these wild lands would vary from area to area, but would most likely ban most energy development, some recreation activities and, yes, maybe even grazing.
The Obama administration realizes that the people in our rural areas affected by the action are mostly Republican, so it can’t hurt them, but this action will really go over with the Democrats across the nation in the urban areas. And, don’t forget that the National Landscape Conservation System movement is now 10 years old. That’s the movement to connect Alaska down through the Rocky Mountains to Arizona with wilderness areas or wild areas free from development. In other words – lock them up, along with making it difficult to manage private lands without some kind of restrictions.
The Obama administration has really stuck it to Utah with this action. Utahans have said “Wilderness is defined by Congress to mean 5,000 acres of roadless lands and, well, the rest doesn’t matter. Although wilderness designation originally was intended for unique, pristine areas offering outstanding opportunities for solitude, it now merely means any 5,000-acre chunk of public land where roads can be ignored or red-lined. The quality of the land or the experience is irrelevant. It is strictly a numbers thing.” This administration has no concern for local rural economies, local school districts or their governments.
Hopefully the change in the U.S. House will take this action on, and thank God that, under laws passed long ago, it shouldn’t happen in Wyoming.