SWEETWATER COUNTY — The members of Sweetwater County’s legislative deligation have penned a letter to Wyoming’s US House Rep Liz Cheney regarding the issue of wilderness study areas in Wyoming.
The full text follows:
February 19, 2018
The Honorable Elizabeth Cheney
United States House of Representatives
United States Capitol
Washington, DC 20515
Via email care of Holly Heussner
Dear Congressman Cheney,
We write to you regarding the 13 Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) in Sweetwater County. Please do not release these areas or recommend management for them without a meaningful public process. Our citizens deserve to be involved with management determinations for these important and special places.
Our WSAs include remarkable badlands, like Adobe Town, vast sand dunes and towering buttes. Some of these, with protective designations, could boost economic development opportunities for our area through increased tourism. The conversation about how to manage these areas for the future of our communities should include a wide variety of perspectives.
Numerous counties across Wyoming have initiated county advisory committees through the Wyoming Public Lands Initiative (WPLI). Sweetwater County Commissioners declined to join the WPLI during the BLM’s revision of our regional land-use plan. We understand this decision. However, even though the county commission decided against participating in WPLI at this time, we know our county’s residents are interested in the management of WSAs and would, one day, like to engage in a local process to determine that management.
The most likely path to successful public lands legislation includes a broad spectrum of stakeholders and encourages transparency and public involvement. WPLI outlined this type of path, but a collaborative process can also be organized outside of WPLI. Our constituents would like to be involved in a collaborative process—if not this year, then sometime in the future. As other counties determine final management for WSAs through consensus-driven local processes, citizens in Sweetwater County will likely grow even more interested in having a say about our WSAs. Please do not preclude that possibility by releasing our WSAs now, without our local involvement.
Senator John Hastert, Senator Liisa Anselmi-Dalton, Representative John Freeman, Representative JoAnn Dayton and Representative Stan Blake
Sweetwater County Commission Chairman Reid West Sweetwater County Commissioner Wally Johnson