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State legislators provide update at WSGA winter convention

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA) Executive Vice President Jim Magagna kicked off the last day of the 2023 WSGA Winter Roundup Convention and Trade Show with the annual legislative breakfast.

Magagna introduced Sen. Cheri Steinmetz (R-SD3), Senate Ag Committee chair member, and Rep. Scott Heiner (R-HD18), Federal Natural Resource Management Committee member, who gave attendees a legislative update.

Legislative action items 

“WSGA and its members value the relationship it has with Wyoming Legislature, and it is imperative we provide information on local and state topics of concern to you,” Magagna stated. “It is important for individuals of the community, such as yourselves, to know what is happening around Wyoming so you can reach out to local representatives and encourage support.”

Steinmetz provided updates regarding state land bills, wildlife damage compensation and the current issues of livestock carcass disposal and aging irrigation infrastructure.

“With recent structural failures, critical aging irrigation infrastructure has become a pressing issue in the state,” Steinmetz stated. “Currently, a research project has been conducted, and preliminary reports state 29 percent of infrastructure is in good condition, 44 percent is in fair condition, 14 percent fall into the poor category, while four percent fall into the failed category and nine percent are unknown at this time.”

According to the Wyoming Water Development Commission, the critical aging irrigation infrastructure project is projected to conclude later this month.

Ten public meetings have been held across the state of Wyoming to inform the public and gather additional input.

Landowners, ranchers and farmers were invited to attend those meetings to help identify aging infrastructure in their systems and discuss areas of concern with daily operations.

Heiner discussed current state topics including brucellosis damage reimbursement, wild horse numbers and the Good Neighbor Authority program.

The Good Neighbor Authority program was authorized in the 2018 Farm Bill and enables state, county and Tribal agencies to work collaboratively with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) across land ownership types to perform restoration work on forest, grasslands and watersheds.

Wyoming agencies with agreements include the Wyoming State Forestry Division, Wyoming Game and Fish Department and Wyoming Department of Agriculture.

“Through the program, timber sales have processed faster, and wildfire restoration has been able to take place quicker and more effectively,” Heiner explained. 

“The Good Neighbor Authority program is funded through federal funds, while the state only contributes 10 percent,” he stated. “We have tried to collaborate with the BLM but they have declined the joint efforts. We will continue to push for joint effort collaboration.”

Be aware, get involved

Heiner continued his legislative update, addressing one of the biggest concerns Wyoming is currently facing.

“Another topic of real concern for Wyoming residents and other Western states is the Rock Springs Resource Management Plan (RMP), which dictates how 3.6 million acres of land would be managed and accessed for decades to come,” Heiner stated. “And, the plan proposes creating more than 1.6 million acres as areas of critical environmental concern.”

Four alternative plans have been created, but BLM prefers Alternative B, the most restrictive plan, whereas Alternative C would allow the most flexibility of management and is the least restrictive.

“The document is over 1,300 pages long, and one example in the document states there will be a 73 percent reduction in oil and gas production, resulting in thousands of lost jobs,” Heiner added.

“We need to be aware. If this happens in Wyoming, it can happen anywhere in the West,” he continued. “We will not be able to reverse this policy if it is passed. There will be no waivers or exceptions.”

Heiner explained the Rock Springs RMP would limit permitted public uses of the land, restricting off-highway roads and potentially closing others, while only allowing individuals to be on the land for no more than one hour.

“Signs are already going up in the area,” he added. “Just look at the proposed maps, they restrict and impact ranchers and farmers in the area, and the livelihood of hundreds of ranchers in the state could be lost.”

“The comment period has been extended to Jan 17, 2024, and the BLM needs to hear from residents of this state,” Heiner concluded. “If comments can be made from other parts of the world pertaining to Wyoming, it’s time we get involved and voice our concerns about the RMP.”

Melissa Anderson is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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