Trust Is Important
Published: 17 May 2014
A couple of weeks ago, members of the Wyoming Public Lands Coalition traveled to Washington, D.C. for the annual Public Lands Council Spring Legislature Conference. One travels to our nation’s capitol knowing that, as public land ranchers, there will always be issues. There always have been problems, and this trip was no different.
When the staff of Public Lands Council organizes the conference, they really work hard to get the right speakers and leaders of agencies to speak to us, along with all the BLM, Forest Service and NRCS agencies.
They also invite members of Congress to meet with us on Capitol Hill, and we set up times to meet with our own congressional delegation, which is always very informative for us and marks one of our favorite times. I suspect it is a good time also for Wyoming’s congressional members, as both questions and answers go back and forth. It really is an opportunity for good friends to visit. Let me tell you, that opportunity doesn’t happen with every state. We are very fortunate to have the congressional members and their staffs who really care about Wyoming. We hear that from people from other states all the time.
Tom Tidwell, chief of the U.S. Forest Service, was one of the speakers who did a particularly good job. One got the sense that he cared about the cattle and sheep on the forest, and it sounded like he didn’t like the recent court decisions any more than we have. Let’s face it – a judge doesn’t make a very good rangeland manager.
We also heard from the new BLM Director Neil Kornze, who was confirmed for the position while we were back in Washington, D.C. He was a very personable person who talked easily with ranchers and left a good impression. He seemed young for such a job, and having spent most of his working life with Harry Reid, majority leader of the U.S Senate, it leaves one highly suspicious of which direction he will go. After watching the circus going on in Nevada between the BLM and a rancher, we don’t have the best impression of his leadership. But he did back the BLM off after it was obvious someone was going to get hurt.
Public lands ranchers have some big issues these days with both the Forest Service and the BLM. The days ahead will not be easy, and we really need to support those who are in discussions with those agencies.
I had to leave town before the EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy spoke, but like other EPA officials, I imagine she talked a lot and said little. All of U.S. agriculture has issues with the EPA’s “waters of the U.S.” designation being forced down our throats.
Some of these issues, from all three of these government agencies, will most likely end up in litigation. They are just too important to let pass, and the current administration is leaving us with no recourse but to go to court. Unfortunately, court is an expensive and risky way to manage our waters and public lands.
But we all came home to good news. A recent poll by Gallup, Inc. showed Wyoming as second in the list of most trusted state governments, with North Dakota at the top. The western states topped the list with the eastern states at the bottom. We knew that. It’s good to be home.