Thermopolis Independent Record - Your source for news in Hot Springs County

By April S. Kelley
Reporter & Photographer 

Winters to speak on federally managed lands


State Representative Nathan Winters is slated to speak on “Federally Managed Lands Transfer to State Control” at 7 p.m. May 19 at the Big Horn Federal Meeting Room. The presentation and discussion will be put on by the Thermopolis Gun Club.

Winters will speak on current conditions as well as state ownership issues.

“I’m going to facilitate a conversation,” Winters said. “I want people to come out and talk about these issues. It would be helpful to have a lot of different perspectives.”

Winters explained that he wants to give an overview of all of the different perspectives as well as help people to understand the importance of having this discussion.

“We need to have this discussion because we’ve watched a dramatic change in the finances of our country in general,” he said. “There are a lot of lands that are owned by the federal government. Those lands are inaccessible for taxable purposes by the state of Wyoming. “

Winters said that 48 percent of the State of Wyoming is federally managed lands.

“There’s been a long-standing effort to take a look at what would happen if the State of Wyoming took over these lands — what that would look like and how we can best manage them,” Winters said.

One of the big issues is how people could gain access to public lands if they were owned by the State, Winters said.

“We do believe in multiple use,” he said. “We believe in the access of individuals to hunt and fish and all of those different things.”

Winters said there needs to be a discussion about the best practices to use to manage these public lands.

“Right now, the government is running them [federally managed lands] at a net loss,” he said. “We would be able to manage them far more profitably.”

Another issue that Winters brought up regarding federally managed lands was the number of forest fires.

“When you look at the number of forest fires over the last 30 years, most of those occurred on federally managed lands that are inaccessible,” he said. “When you have local control, you can make better decisions. Local control means that decisions are being made by people who are actually on the ground, which I think is better. I think that’s where the discussion needs to happen.”


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