Governor Mead highlights federal affairs in address to Stock Growers
Laramie – Governor Matt Mead opened the Awards Luncheon at the Wyoming Cattle Industry 2011 Convention and Trade Show on June 3 on a positive note, affirming that Wyoming is doing well and the issues the state faces are being actively addressed on both the state and federal levels.
Mead looked at the limited role that federal government should have in relation to the states, saying, “Federal government tensions with the states have always been there, but in my mind the scale is getting worse. There is more and more federal government intrusion, and that’s not good.”
He went on to highlight some things the Wyoming government is doing to protect its future, addressing three key points: wild lands, wolves and the future of Wyoming.
Mead also pointed out, “The list of things that we are working on is long. We have great opportunities we cannot take for granted. “
One of the first issues Mead tackled soon after he took office as governor involved Wild Lands.
In response to Secretarial Order 3310, which was issued by the Department of the Interior last December, Mead, working with the state of Utah and a number of other Western states, began fighting the order, saying it was beyond the authority of the federal government.
Order 3310 allowed the BLM to designate areas with wilderness characteristics as Wild Lands and manage them to protect their wilderness character.
After letters, lobbying and open disapproval of the order from the Wyoming citizens beginning as early as January, as well as equal actions by other Western states, including a lawsuit by the state of Utah, Secretary Salazar agreed to abandon the order on June 1.
“I take that as good news. While I am glad they are backing off on the Wild Lands, I do think that this is the way we need to attack the issues. We don’t combine forces the way we should,” said Mead.
He continued, suggesting this effort should pose as the model for all future efforts in Washington.
“We should continue to form these partnerships among all of us,” he noted, adding that these partnerships accomplish the similar goals of a number of states in a very efficient manner.
Mead also addressed the subject of wolves, a hot topic since their reintroduction in 1995. He pointed out that wolves are a problem for a number of reasons, and that the wolves themselves, as well as the nature of the reintroduction decision, were detrimental.
“We aren’t in a stalemate with wolves – we are losing – and that is because there are more and more wolves every year,” he said. “We are trying to see if there is a way to get forward on this where wolves in the vast majority of the state are treated as predator status.”
“There isn’t question that wolves have fully recovered, and Secretary Salazar agrees,” said Mead.
However, he said his suggestion of 100 wolves in Wyoming outside the boundary of Yellowstone National Park was not met with enthusiasm. In his suggestion he also included a migratory region as part of the agreement, allowing movement through the Snake River Canyon in winter months when livestock aren’t present.
“They aren’t particularly thrilled about it,” said Mead.
But, he said he’ll push on to find a solution to the wolf problem.
“I’m doing it because I’m 100 percent certain we have to try. I do think it is worth the effort to get the vast majority of the state to predator status,” he said. “The individuals we are working with are motivated, and we have great support from our congressional delegation, who is working to get us where we want.”
Mead concluded his remarks with a highlight of the opportunities for Wyoming’s future, saying, “We are in a good place.”
“Unemployment is down from a year ago, and revenues are up beyond projection. We can be fairly confident that we in Wyoming are not going to go down the road that other states are going down,” he explained, adding that, as he listens to the problems of other states, such as budget deficits and labor problems, he thinks, “I don’t know if its enough to say that we’ve had bad weather.”
But, he said he recognizes that Wyoming certainly faces challenges.
“But we are very fortunate to live in this wonderful state. We are in a better place than most states,” he said, explaining that position is due partially to citizen’s access to elected officials. He pointed out that Wyoming citizens are also accessible, saying, “Every time I have reached out, people have stepped up and provided information and help.”
“While Wyoming is small in population, we are great in the contribution that we make to this country,” said Mead.
Mead concluded his talk with a final thought, saying, “If you want a high quality of life, you have to have strong ag. It is responsible for the overall quality of this great state.”
Saige Albert is assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.