Public Lands Council relies on local affiliates to drive work that benefits the West
The Public Lands Council (PLC) works in Washington, D.C. on Capitol Hill to advocate for policy and action that benefits the work of public lands ranchers across the western United States.
“We advocate for policies that are good for every state in the West,” says PLC Executive Director Ethan Lane.
For PLC, state affiliates are the driving force behind their activity.
“States are the foundation of everything we do in our D.C. office,” Lane says. “Our policy and direction related to what issues we pursue and how we pursue issues on Capitol Hill come 100 percent from the feedback and guidance we receive from our affiliates.”
He continues, “As they work with their members, states deal with national issues that impact ranchers in the west in different ways. We filter that guidance and make sure we advocate for policies that are good for everyone.”
Lane also says the best way for ranchers to influence action on issues that impact them is to participate.
“At the end of the day, everyone’s schedule is different,” he says, “but participation is important.”
Whether ranchers attend the latest meeting of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association to visit with leadership about what’s going on or work with the Wyoming Public Lands Coalition, Lane emphasizes that ranchers must tell their stories.
“A lot of people say, ‘I’m sure you’ve heard my issue before,’ but that one story can totally change how we approach an issue in D.C.,” Lane says, emphasizing that ranchers shouldn’t assume they have the same experience as everyone else. “We only get these stories if ranchers get in their pick-ups and take time to come to meetings.”
PLC also hosts annual meetings and legislative conferences in Washington, D.C., which provides the opportunity for ranchers to interact directly with Congressmen and women, agency officials and staff members to explain how policy affects ranches on the local level.
Lane also notes that part of engaging in advocacy is providing a financial contribution in the form of annual dues.
“Dues enhance our ability to engage and focus on specific federal permit issues that we deal with every day in D.C.,” he explains. “These factor into budget flexibility, and we are able to go on the offense if I have the resources to push the envelope and push for additional coverage to make sure we get our point of view out there.”
“I only have the ability to advocate for our issues if I’m given the resources to push our viewpoint,” he says.
Past, present and future
PLC’s long history enables them to effectively advocate for the industry in Washington, D.C., as a result of the strong connections the organization has formed.
“We’ve had our 50th year, and we have more impact and a bigger seat at the table than we’ve ever had,” Lane says. “This is the time for us to hit the gas and ask for what we want. There has never been a more important time than now to really dig in and ask for what we want.”
Currently, Lane adds that optimism continues to build with a new administration in place.
“Just because we have a new administration doesn’t mean all of our problems have evaporated,” he says. “We still have a Congress that moves slow.”
He emphasizes change takes time, but as PLC moves forward, the organization is focused on making changes that will outlast the Trump administration and can’t be undone in the next administration.”
Lane comments, “Overall, we have had more positive conversations in 2017 than we had in 2015, but the reality is, there is a lot more work to be done in Washington, D.C.”
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.