Lacking Votes, Land Transfer Amendment Killed

Jan 20, 2017

Credit TYRA OLSTAD- Fossil Butte National Monument

A controversial constitutional amendment that would have allowed the state to take over management of federal lands was killed late Friday afternoon by legislators who realized they did not have enough votes to pass it. 

The Select Committee on Federal Natural Resources said they drafted the proposed amendment as a way to protect public access to federal lands. House Majority Floor Leader David Miller said legal actions by other states could force Wyoming to take over public lands.

“The purpose of that Senate Resolution 3 was to protect Wyoming Lands to where they could never be sold in the future," said Miller. "So what it actually was doing was exactly what all the opposition was saying that they don’t want to do. So now there’s nothing there that if the lands are transferred back to the state, right now I don’t know where they would go.”

Miller also argued at a press conference last week that the lands the state are interested in managing are not National Parks, wilderness areas or other popular recreation destination, but rather mineral-rich areas like Bureau of Land Management areas that could help the state get back on its feet, financially. 

Outdoor recreationists didn’t buy either argument, though, turning out in large numbers to protest the bill. 

Recently, legislators met with the the Wyoming Wildlife Federation about a possible alternative that would give locals more power in negotiating with federal land agencies. Those ideas apparently gained steam. Senate President Eli Bebout announced he wouldn’t send the amendment on to a committee for introduction, effectively killing the land transfer bill for the session.