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Casper — Fremont County Natural Resource Planning Committee Chair Jim Allen says when he was a kid the people who lived and worked on the land made decisions jointly with national forest land managers, and it worked.
    “From that time until now we’ve experienced a decline in that relationship, and a decline in how we can make a living,” said Allen at the recent Wyoming Farm Bureau Foundation 2009 Symposium in Casper. “We all want security in our investment, and we count on and need grazing leases, and we want to have some security in that.”
    Allen said the Fremont County commissioners had the foresight to “rediscover” a coordination process. “In the late ‘60s and early ‘70s Congress passed statutes that are really helpful to us in the National Forest Management Act. What’s unique about those statutes is they continually use the word ‘coordination,’ not collaboration or cooperation.”
    “Federal land agencies have been directed by Congress to coordinate with local government, and it only works if you hold their feet to the fire,” said Allen. “My advice to you is hang tough, don’t weaken. Take a bite and hang on.”
    Allen gave an example of a federal survey of the Fremont County area, which resulted in the “custom and culture” of the area being labeled as backpacking and rock climbing. “Custom means a practice by common adoption and long-unvarying habit that has come to have the force of law. We contend the facts don’t back up that Lander is primarily a backpacking/climbing area.”
    “For a planning process to have any type of control there has to be a baseline,” said Fremont County Commissioner Doug Thompson. “If BLM starts to identify problems going into a major planning process, it’s critical you as an individual and the county look at where the baseline is.”
    He said when Fremont County looked through its “Analysis of Management Situation (AMS),” narratives were drafted before each subject that were totally bogus. “They started saying things like Fremont County’s economic basis was non-labor income and government payments. Those of us who earn an honest living resent that,” said Thompson.
    “They draft the AMS, and you need to look at that to make sure they’re fairly representing your interests,” continued Thompson. “You need to correct that before you get into this process, otherwise you’ll be trying to find solutions for the problems they invented to accomplish their agenda.”
    The land use plan for Fremont County is broken into components for grazing, timber, recreation, wildlife, etc. “The overriding theme is that we outlined our goals, objectives and guidelines,” said Allen. “Federal land management agencies are required to coordinate with state, local and tribal government.”
    “Small, local governments are the fundamental building blocks of our form of government, and they’re a powerful tool if we use it,” said Allen..
    Thompson said counties need to figure out how to maximize influence. “Like any tool, if you keep it sharp and use it, it will be effective,” he said, adding the two ways to influence federal planning process are individually and through county government.
    “When Congress passes a law, agencies have to promulgate rules to go along with it. That’s when you have to watch them like a hawk, because often they miss the intent of the statute in their interpretation,” cautioned Allen. “What you’ll find in planning rules is words like collaboration and cooperation, but they’re not coordination. They use those words on purpose because they really don’t want to work with local government like they’re supposed to.”
    Thompson said early involvement is key. “It’s hard to correct something after it’s uncorrectable. With federal government we’re often left scrambling to get the best of the worst deal. To be involved early, sign up as interested public and put them on notice you want to be notified of all environmental assessments, environmental impact statements and implementation actions involving your grazing permit, grazing in general, or whatever your interests are. That gets you in the game.”
    Allen said in cooperating agency status the lead agency retains exclusive decision making authority. “You can spend a lot of time and effort and go to a lot of meetings, but then they can just decide, and it may or may not be in your best interest,” he noted. “It’s not as useful as coordination, because then they have a Congressional mandate to make their plan align with yours.”
    He said that is the value of having a county land use plan, and he added the plans work and they have been litigated in Utah, where a judge ruled the BLM’s decision to retain wild horses in a county was against the county’s land use plan.
    “Federal agencies have the legal burden to make their plans consistent with our plans,” he explained. “Write a plan, get your commissioners to back it and notify federal agencies you have a plan, then the burden of consistency rests with them.”
    “It’s a chore, but you have to stay involved through the whole process, as tedious and irritating as it is,” said Thompson. “Make formal comments, stay involved, let them know you’re watching them. Put yourself in a position to appeal or protest and document your position and your points.”
    Christy Hemken is assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Cheyenne – Legislation signed into law by Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal has enhanced a lending option for the state’s beginning agricultural producers and made available loans to help ranchers enhance or restore livestock numbers.
    According to Fred Pannell of the Wyoming Office of State Lands and Investment’s (OSLI) Real Estate and Loans Division, the additional funds will not be available until after July 1, 2008. With rules and application guidelines already in place, however, interested producers can begin the application process.
    SF8, signed by Gov. Freudenthal early March, increases funding in the program from the current $7 million to $27.5 million. The $7 million cap was reached in 2007 causing OSLI to turn down additional loan requests.
    Beginning agricultural producer loans are limited to those individuals who have never owned or operated more than 160 acres of cultivated irrigated land, 320 acres of cultivated dry cropland or 640 acres of grazing land unless such land was acquired within the last two years.
    “They have to be a resident of Wyoming and the land has to be in Wyoming,” says Pannell. “You have to have good credit history and adequate repayment ability. The most we can loan is 70 percent of appraised value.”
    Right now interest rates are in the four to five percent range for the program, but can change as they’re based on the average yield on a U.S. Treasury Bond or eight percent, whichever is lower. “We call the Treasurer’s office to determine the rate the day we close,” he explains. Rates are locked in at closing and go to eight percent when the loan reaches the 10-year mark.
    Pannell says it’s been a great program for the state with borrowers proving diligent in making their payments. “I think it’s done what it was intended to do,” he says.
    The same legislation approved a loan program to enhance and restore Wyoming’s livestock numbers. Because this is a new program, the State Loan and Investment Board will need to approve rules prior to making loans under this program. Pannell expects to complete that process prior to money for the loan program becoming available July 1, 2008.
    The Wyoming Stock Growers Association, in partnership with other agricultural organizations and the OSLI, led the effort to amend and enhance the state’s loan programs. In a January editorial in this publication, WSGA Executive Vice President Jim Magagna explained, “A new classification of loans, to be known as livestock enhancement loans, is established by the legislation. This program is designed to encourage growth in the state’s livestock industry, which constitutes nearly 85 percent of cash receipts from Wyoming agricultural production. Livestock numbers have seen a serious decline in recent years due in part to drought. Loans would be for a maximum of seven years and a maximum amount of $300,000, secured by a real estate mortgage and would be offered at an interest rate equal to 75 percent of the lowest rate on a standard farm loan.” According to Pannell, that would make the current loan rate six percent.
    “This program would be in lieu of the drought breeding stock replacement program which was established by the legislature in 2005 but remains unused,” said Magagna.
     The legislation would also increase the size of the minimum farm loan to $10,000 and the maximum total amount of loans to any one borrower to $800,000.
    A total of $275 million is statutorily available for farm loans. The legislation does not change this amount, but only increases the allocation to specific programs. “During times of high commercial interest rates outstanding loans have approached this limit,” said Magagna. “However, recent low interest rates saw the use of the total Farm Loan Program decline to less than $35 million.”
    “The specific provisions of the beginning agricultural producer and livestock enhancement loans reflect a policy decision to foster a healthy Wyoming agriculture industry with a strong future,” said Magagna.
    Jennifer Womack is editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Casper — “The problem in Wyoming is that we’re so blessed with riches that we can’t really envision it will ever be any different,” says Building the Wyoming We Want (BW3) Advisory Committee Chairman Terry Cleveland of the need for Wyoming’s public to participate in an intentional planning process as the state develops.
    “People are pretty happy,” says Cleveland of Wyomingites. “The quality of life is pretty good here. The economy could be better, but it’s not as bad as other places. It’s hard to motivate people when they’re comfortable.”
    Cleveland speaks of BW3’s mission to assist cities and towns in a smart planning process, which he says takes the interest and involvement of both elected officials and citizens.
    The BW3 organization recently funded a values study of Wyoming’s citizens, which measured the general public and Wyoming’s leaders separately. A strong emphasis communicated by the survey was the value of agriculture to the people of the state, with 57 percent of the public saying ranching has a great deal of value and 34 percent saying they think it has a fair amount of value.  
    “Some news publications in the state were amazed on the comments about agriculture and its importance to Wyoming, and they immediately related it to the economy,” says Cleveland, adding, “Certainly agriculture is important in that way, but from my viewpoint I think the public’s view is broader than that. They see agriculture as a Western way of life, and they recognize and appreciate open spaces and they know that people successful in agriculture are hard-working people, and those are values the people of Wyoming have, and that characterizes what agriculture is all about.”
    “I think they recognize the value of ranching lands and open space to wildlife,” says Cleveland, referencing his experience with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. “One of the biggest changes I saw over my career was the loss of access to private land. I think the public is beginning to realize that, even if they don’t have access to the land, there is value in terms of open space and the production of wildlife on that land.”
    The survey found that 55 percent of people in Wyoming have worked on a farm or ranch at some time in their life. “It surprised me that it was still that high, and I think a challenge for ag and wildlife is our kids and the tie they have to the environment and land and water. Once that tie’s broken, I don’t think you can ever build it back and we lose political and financial support when people don’t care anymore.”
    “I think people see that if we want to have Wyoming in the future as we now have it and enjoy it, and hope to have it for kids and grandkids, we have to keep agriculture as a viable industry,” he continues.
    Regarding Wyoming’s youth and competing for their time, Cleveland says, “As this moves forward we have to strategize how we’re going to involve youth, because they’ll be the recipients of this future we’re envisioning. But that’s part of the problem – whether they want to engage. We can develop all kinds of things to educate and inform, but they won’t do any good if the kids aren’t interested.”
    A part of the initiative to engage a younger audience is the creation of Facebook and Twitter profiles, which feature information about the organization, discussion boards, updates and videos from Wyoming citizens describing the Wyoming they want.
    Concerning private property rights, Cleveland says Wyoming is very conflicted. “We’re strong property rights proponents and we’ve always resisted telling anybody what they can do with their property, but we have to be realistic,” he notes. “The best way to achieve smart growth is through incentives and not through rules and regulations and statutory changes.”
    “I give Wyoming people credit, because they’re beginning to recognize some things that maybe they didn’t used to,” says Cleveland. “The challenge everybody’s caught up in is making a living day-to-day, and not thinking 30 years out.”
    He says that although the general public usually leaves that kind of planning to elected officials, survey results show they see themselves as the best people to address the issue of how the state will be developed. “And they are, the average person,” says Cleveland. “For planning to really be effective both the citizenry and elected officials have to engage.”
    He says that although development will occur in Wyoming, planning is necessary to avoid “loving a place to death,” where people all want a piece of paradise, but then all those pieces add up.
    Cleveland says he thinks there’s room in Wyoming for almost everything the people of the state want. “We could do a lot better with it if we plan it,” he says. “We have a wealth of information in the state, and we can layer it before we issue permits to find out where the uses and conflicts are.”
    Cleveland thinks there will be continued dialogue on incentives to keep open space through agriculture. “Incentives are a broad concept, and there are some differences in opinion between the leaders and the general public in the survey, so we’ll see where that goes.”
    According to the survey, 72 percent of the public and 59 percent of leaders think farming and ranching is critical to the future of Wyoming. Furthermore, 41 percent of the public and 43 percent of leaders believe in providing incentives to keep land in farms, ranches and open space.
    “People in individual counties will have to decide how they’re going to pay for this. There’s a cost for everything, and we pay for garbage collection and water and sewer, so if we live here because of open space, maybe we need to pay to assure that we have it,” he comments.
    “I don’t think ranchers have anything to fear from this survey or this initiative,” notes Cleveland. “I think it reiterates what the Stock Growers found with their survey, that the value of agriculture is prized in Wyoming. I don’t think they should be concerned in any way, but rather build on it.”
    “Wyoming’s going to grow, and people need to think about how they want it to grow, because if it happens happenstance I’m not sure we’re going to be happy with it,” says Cleveland. “Growth is going to happen. The key is to be wise enough to manage it in a way we’re comfortable with the outcome. That’s all.”
    He says he thinks people are starting to realize if they don’t take control they’ll probably lose some of those things of value to them. “Whether we’re at critical mass, I don’t know,” says Cleveland. “It varies from one part of the state to another, but people need to realize they’re in control of their own destiny.”
    Find BW3 online at www.buildingwyoming.com and on Facebook by searching for “Building Wyoming.” Christy Hemken is assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Cheyenne – On Jan. 13, the 63rd Wyoming Legislature will convene at noon for the start of the 2015 General Session. 

Though bills can be filed for several weeks still, Wyoming’s ag groups have been working hard on a number of efforts to positively impact Wyoming agriculture.

“The legislative session is almost upon us,” Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA) Executive Vice President Jim Magagna comments. “While there aren’t many bills that we are going to be tracking, there are some priorities.”

Trespass legislation

Several bills related to trespass will be up for debate, including a bill addressing landowner liability to trespassers and a bill related to trespassing to collect resource data. 

“These two bills are big ones for us,” Magagna notes. 

Magagna explains that last year, a similar bill was working its way through the legislature until an unfriendly amendment from the House Judiciary Committee  stalled the bill’s progress. 

“A companion bill to the trespass bill is a new bill on trespass to collect resource data,” he continued. 

“Legislatively, our priority is the trespass bill,” Wyoming Association of Conservation District (WACD) Executive Director Bobbie Frank emphasizes. “With today’s technology, we need to build in protections for landowners who have people trespassing on their property without their knowledge and submitting data.”

Frank emphasizes that the bill is one that is imperative for Wyoming’s landowners. 

“This bill is our top priority,”she says.

The bill would impose penalties for those persons who trespass on private land to collect natural resource data, such as water quality data. 

Benefiting producers

For WACD, a bill that would amend conservation district law to authorize a second mill levy for water projects is also anticipated. 

“The bill is in draft form currently,” Frank says. “Where voters would support a second mill levy for water projects, they could vote on it and get more work done in developing and conserving water.”

For the Wyoming Crop Improvement Association, Keith Kennedy notes that a bill to create a dry bean checkoff is important. 

“We’ve got quite a few growers who are out visiting with different legislators,” Kennedy says, “and we have the processors on board, as well. They see the benefits it could offer in terms of research dollars for more varieties that are adapted to our growing area.”

Looking back on this year, in particular, where many producers lost their crops to an early September freeze, Kennedy mentions, “The season we had in the northwest brought to the forefront that it would be nice to have shorter season varieties that yield well.”

Other bills

Another bill addressing driver’s license requirements is also a focus for WSGA. The bill would exempt the agriculture industry from requirements for higher class driver’s licenses to operate equipment close to home. 

“We are looking very closely to the exemption in Wyoming on Class A and Class B that the Transportation Committee is bringing forward,” Scott Zimmerman of Rocky Mountain Farmer’s Union (RMFU) says.

Ken Hamilton of Wyoming Farm Bureau notes, “The driver’s license issue is two-fold. One deals with the folks who have pickups and horse trailers that are large. The other is for those transporting their own goods. It would allow us to address some challenges, particularly in the Big Horn Basin.”

Zimmerman noted that potential legislation on animal welfare would be of interest to RMFU, as well. 

“Even though the Joint Ag Committee isn’t supporting any welfare legislation, we are very interested in potential animal welfare, specifically the domestic pet approach discussed during committee meetings,” Zimmerman continues.

2015 session

“We can never predict what might be a hot-button issue during the legislature, but we will watch and be involved,” Zimmerman adds. “We haven’t seen many individual legislator’s bills, and it is hard to predict what might show up.”

“There are a few other things coming along,” Magagna adds, noting that he expects many more bills to be filed as the session approaches.

Getting involved

There are many opportunities for Wyoming citizens to get involved during the 2015 General Session of the Wyoming Legislature.

All sessions of the Wyoming House of Representatives and Wyoming Senate are broadcast via the internet at wyoleg.gov

Additionally, a list of all bills, the full text of all bills and their status is available online. Bill status can also be confirmed by calling the Bill Status Information Service at 800-342-9570. 

To keep in touch with legislators, messages may be left with the Senate receptionist by calling 307-777-7711 or the House receptionist at 307-777-7852. 

Legislators may also be contacted by leaving a message on either the Online or Telephone Hotlines. The Online Hotline can be found at legisweb.state.wy.us/postcomments/onlinehotline.aspx.

Email contact information is available for each legislator at wyoleg.gov.

 

Look for weekly updates on the 2015 General Session of the Wyoming Legislature in the Roundup.

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Cheyenne – Wyoming’s agriculture community was among those expressing disappointment, yet gratitude, when Wyoming Game and Fish Director Terry Cleveland recently announced his retirement plans. Members of the ag community say the relationship between Game and Fish and the landowner community reached an all-time high under Cleveland’s direction.
    “He’s been very positive for the agriculture industry,” said Wyoming Wool Growers Association Executive Vice President Bryce Reece. “His willingness to listen, respect and understand the livestock and ranching community’s perspective has fostered an atmosphere of mutual respect and understanding between two communities that had long been at odds. This has led to a period of advancement for both wildlife and agriculture in Wyoming like has never before been seen.”
    Cleveland’s appreciation was evident in quotes issued as part of a statement announcing his retirement, which will take effect June 30, 2008. “…I would like to thank all of the private landowners who provide habitat for wildlife across the state. The richness, abundance and diversity of Wyoming’s wildlife resources would not be nearly so great without the contributions of the hundreds of private landowners in the state,” said Cleveland.
    “Terry cut through the bureaucracy and was able to get some things done,” said McFadden rancher and Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts President Ralph Brokaw. “What I appreciate most about Terry is his understanding of landowners’ role in healthy wildlife populations. He understands landowners are key to wildlife’s future and he recognizes them for the management they do. That was a refreshing attitude to see in his agency.”
    “Terry has been a great asset to our state and the Game and Fish Agency,” said Daniel rancher John Andrikopolous. “He’s been a very good friend of ranchers and managers of Wyoming’s wildlife. He’s recognized the landowners are also land managers and that most of them want to do what is right for the land and the livestock. He’s built a great number of good working relationships, including with our family, and we will miss him in his position as G&F director.”
    “Terry has that rare ability to truly understand that doing your job successfully is all about building relationships with people,” said Wyoming Stock Growers Association Executive Vice President Jim Magagna. “Particularly in government, we seem to have a shortage of that today. Terry has done that with many people, but of course the one most noteworthy from our perspective is the relationship he built with the ag community, landowners.”
    “I would have preferred he stayed around and retired at 70 or 75,” laughed Wyoming Farm Bureau Executive Vice President Ken Hamilton. “Working with Terry was so much different than other directors I’ve worked with. I’ve felt like he understands the agricultural community. While we didn’t agree all the time, we’ve understood where he was coming from.”
    “He sees the real role we play in wildlife management because we are responsible for so much of the habitat,” said Magagna. “While we didn’t always agree on every issue we had that feeling of comfort that we could work with Terry and express our views and they would be given consideration even when they might not be consistent with department views and he would personally ensure our interests were at the table.”
    “Terry Cleveland may be the finest director that the Game and Fish Department has ever seen,” said Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal. “During his tenure, he navigated some of the most difficult wildlife management issues that our state has ever faced, including the delisting of wolves and grizzly bears and the ongoing challenges of sage grouse conservation and brucellosis. As he grappled with these challenges, Terry did so with a sense of mastery, and conducted himself in a manner that built confidence in department staff and in the citizens of Wyoming. Terry will leave the Game and Fish Department in very good condition heading into the future, and I thank him for his dedication, his service and his enduring commitment to the state. I will miss him as a colleague and a friend and hope to not let him go very far as I will continue to rely on him for his wise counsel.”
    “It just goes to show,” said Hamilton, “that if you get the right person in that agency, how well you can work with landowners.”
    Cleveland, a Rawlins native, began his 39-year career with the G&F in 1969 after graduating from Colorado State University. His first assignment was as Special Deputy Game Warden at Elk Mountain. As his career as a Wyoming Game Warden progressed, he was assigned to stations in Jeffrey City, Greybull and Saratoga. In 1978 he was promoted to District Wildlife Supervisor for the Casper district. In 1996 he was promoted to Assistant Division Chief in the Wildlife Division. And in 2003 he was appointed Director of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
    “Few people have the good fortune to spend their entire professional life in employment for which they have a passion,” said Cleveland. “I am one of the lucky few who have looked forward to going to work on a daily basis for almost four decades.”
    The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission will immediately commence a nationwide search for Cleveland’s replacement. The commission will select three final nominees for the position and forward those names to Governor Freudenthal, who will make the final selection.
    Jennifer Womack is editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..