Gov. Gordon provides update during convention
Casper – During the Wyoming Natural Resource Rendezvous on Dec. 7, Gov. Mark Gordon addressed the crowd before the live and silent auction at the Ramkota Hotel and Conference Center.
“This is where Wyoming’s heart beats, where things happen. This is a group of people who make our state what it is, and we need to do more to recognize this,” said Gordon.
During his address, Gordon shared his plan to recognize concerns brought forward by people throughout Wyoming. On a national level, he acknowledged U.S. Department of Agriculture Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation Robert Bonnie’s involvement in putting together a big game conservation partnership with the state of Wyoming to recognize the value of private lands for wildlife species.
“Today, landowners can receive compensation for the value their land presents – it’s voluntary, and it’s the first in the nation,” said Gordon. “We were very proud to talk about how important agriculture is in the state of Wyoming during these conversations.”
Gordon noted in conversations with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and former Trump administration’s Secretary of Agriculture George Ervin “Sonny” Perdue III, the predominant topic of conversation was the importance of the Black Hills Forest Plan revision.
In addition to stating the ground truth, he noted it is important for the plan revision to make sense, not be academic and allow forest management.
On Dec. 2, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and Gordon urged the Supervisor of the Black Hills National Forest to produce another set of draft assessments for the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) plan revision process.
In their letter, the governors pointed out flawed statements they believed were not backed by scientific material in the Black Hills National Forest Plan revision assessments. These flaws included errors in both the data analysis and assumptions in the Black Hills Timber Sustainability General Technical Report.
“I have the commitment of the USFS, and they are going to take into account both South Dakota and Wyoming’s input,” he said.
On Dec 5, Gov. Gordon sat down with Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior Deb Haaland and shared the importance of eradicating noxious weeds.
Additionally, Gordon serves as the vice chair of the Western Governors’ Association, a bipartisan organization working on a wide variety of policy issues to advance Western priorities.
“We are trying to make sure we present a unified front of Western, federal, public lands issues,” shared Gordon. “On this note, we have really talked about the need to be free of federal control in the West.”
“We need to push to make sure our decisions are made here locally, that they are ground truth, and they meet the test of time,” he added. “I’m really happy I have my colleagues’ commitment to push for this over the next couple of years. It takes time to get things done, and we have a Congress we’re going to have to work on.”
FY 2023 budget plans
During Gordon’s keynote address, he briefly shared with attendees his plans for his supplemental budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2023.
“Despite policies coming from Washington, D.C., Wyoming finds itself in a little bit better financial situation than we could have ever expected,” said Gordon. “Coal, oil and gas prices are up. We have 26 rigs or so running in the state now, but unfortunately, our natural gas volumes are declining, and we need to make sure we figure out a way to make this country energy independent again. The only way we can do this is to open up federal lands and allow drilling to proceed.”
He noted Wyoming is a leader when it comes to drilling in a way that respects private property, and engages all stakeholders, from communities to ranchers and anyone else on federal lands.
“My budget saves half of the state’s surplus into permanent savings,” he noted. “I feel very strongly about this, because these are the dollars used to pay future generations and keep taxes low.”
Gordon explained the current Permanent Wyoming Mineral Trust Fund provides roughly $3,000 tax reductions for every citizen in Wyoming.
“We can do better,” he said. “Our economy has diversified. We now have a lot more spending going into our economy, so when prices collapse in commodities, we’ll be able to count on diversification to carry us through.”
Additionally, Gordon’s budget looks to focus on predator control, delisting the grizzly bear and protecting water resources.
“The Colorado River is at an all-time, historic low, and the power pool in Lake Mead and Lake Powell are critical,” he said. “I’ve asked we put a serious amount of money towards legal and technical reviews of water.”
“Wyoming is the only state in the basin still having allocations available, and we don’t want to lose this,” he said. “We need to have a better handle on our water and be able to protect it from downstream states.”
In closing, Gordon shared he is considering putting together a working group to discuss all of the methods and ways the state approaches management of state lands.
“What I need is for producers to let us know what they need and how we can fix it,” he shared. “The legislature is a great group of people. They are all dedicated, they want to make the right choices and do the right thing, but our U.S. Constitution is a very slim document. However, when we try figure out every permutation, circumstance and opportunity that could possibly happen out of a new law, we build something that is eight feet tall.”
“It’s my responsibility,” he concluded. “I need to make sure issues within our state get fixed, but I need Wyomingites help in doing so. It’s easy to talk about what’s wrong, but we need to talk about what’s right and how we can make it work.”
“There is no better state, no better group of people and no brighter future than the state we have and the people in this room,” Gordon concluded.
Brittany Gunn is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.