Opinion by Niels HansenWritten by Niels Hansen
Niels Hansen, Wyoming Public Lands Council Director
I am sure that, like me, you are glad to see the election past, and the campaign ads gone. For those of us working on federal land grazing issues with the National Public Lands Council (PLC) the outcome of the election did not change the workload. However, it did identify the work to be done.
We were preparing for either outcome. With a Romney win, we would now be working with the transition team preparing to repair the damage done to the natural resource industries. With the Obama win, we will continue to work with the other industries, with Congress and through the courts to fight to keep our industry on the land.
When I was in eighth grade a group of federal land ranchers saw the need and had the will and foresight to create PLC as an organization devoted entirely to meeting the needs of ranchers holding federal grazing permits or leases. Because of that effort, you and I are on the ground doing what we love, while PLC has become a force to be reckoned with back in that strange land called Washington, D.C.
When you sit in the quiet and think about the issues facing your family and your business, what do you think about? I know the drought is the first and last thing I think about every day. I think about the pending feed bills, are we going to have snow for water and will we get rain next spring?
The one thing I know for sure is the drought will end. Our family and I know many of yours have survived drought before, and we will survive this one. What about after you read the paper or hear the news? Do you think about wolves, grizzlies or an endangered plant? Do you fear losing access to the creek or river running through your ranch? Or maybe you think about the lawsuit you read about in the Roundup or the neighbors fighting a challenge to their grazing permit. Whatever the issue, I can assure you PLC is committed to finding an answer that will keep ranchers on the ground.
Once again the time has come for us to fund our defense against the war on the West. We need your help to continue the effort started in 1968. PLC will not be with you in the BLM office when you protest the increasing wild horse herds on your grazing permit, but we will be in the Washington, D.C. office fighting to have the herds reduced West wide. We will be in the halls of Congress explaining the damage to the range and the local communities resulting from the inaction of Congress and the actions of the agencies. We will be working with other groups fighting changes to the Clean Water Act that will take your water for the federal government.
When you are thinking about all the calls and funding requests you receive, I would ask you to think about support for PLC in the same light as doing a good range improvement. It is an investment in the land, it requires maintenance to be effective and without it your job will be tougher.
If you have a federal grazing permit you should have received a mailing last week. Please sit down and make an investment in your ranch for you and your kids. Support the Wyoming Public Lands Coalition and urge your neighbors to do the same. If we would all contribute some we could fund a stronger defense.