Ag Secretary: Fed Lands Should Stay in Fed Hands

Jun 12, 2015

During a visit Thursday to the Bridger-Teton National Forest, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the federal government should not surrender its role managing public lands. That's despite renewed efforts by several Western states to get federally-owned public lands transferred to state control.

Credit Rebecca Huntington / Wyoming Public Radio

"This is an extraordinary treasure, and it is indeed a national treasure. And I think it is incumbent upon the federal government to understand its partnership responsibility, not to abdicate it, not to give it up, not to surrender it."

Vilsack says he can see why states like Wyoming are looking into transferring, acquiring and managing federal lands, such as national forests.

"You're talking about billions of dollars of economic activity and tens of thousands of jobs. I get why Governor Mead would be very interested in making sure that this asset was properly used and recognized. But I'm not prepared yet to say here's the deed governor."

But Vilsack says federal land managers can do a better job of listening to state and local officials to find out better ways to manage these national treasures.