Wyoming lawmaker cites debunked legal theory to block conservation

Jun 7, 2023

Wyoming state senator Bob Ide is using a debunked legal theory “reminiscent of the Sagebrush Rebellion” of the 1970s in an attempt to block the Bureau of Land Management from acquiring land from a willing private seller. In June 2022, the BLM announced that it had completed the purchase of the Marton Ranch, a private property in Wyoming, using money from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. But Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon directed the state to file a complaint with the Interior Board of Land Appeals, and the board directed the BLM to address Wyoming’s concerns. The BLM has since released a supplemental environmental analysis and collected additional public comments, and a final decision on whether to proceed with the acquisition is expected by the end of June.

In a letter to the BLM’s Casper Field Office, Ide argues that a transfer or sale of land to the federal government can only proceed with the approval of the Wyoming state legislature—even if the land is being sold by a willing private seller. However, “The states cannot tell the federal government what to do with federal land, nor do states have any standing to tell private landowners who they can or cannot sell their land to,” Center for Western Priorities Deputy Director Aaron Weiss points out. University of Wyoming College of Law Associate Dean Sam Kalen adds that states can comment on proposed plans, but when it comes to private land sales or transfers to the federal government, there’s little the state can do.

BLM Restoration Landscapes: Missouri Headwaters

In celebration of the Bureau of Land Management’s $161 million investment in Western landscape restoration projects, Look West is highlighting a different Restoration Landscape each day for 21 days. Today’s landscape is the Missouri Headwaters in southwestern Montana. This important ecosystem supports a variety of animals, fishes, and plants in a mix of mountains, valleys, and sagebrush steppe. A restoration investment of just under $10 million will support ecosystem health and recreation economies.

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Picture this

Did you know…The Bureau of Land Management will invest $6 million in restoring lands in the San Luis Valley that are habitat for birds and federally listed species, and offer hunting and fishing at the Rio Grande headwaters.

📷 Bureau of Land Management – Colorado

(featured image: The North Platte River flowing through Marton Ranch, Bureau of Land Management)