About-face: Legislative committee to offer written support for Wyoming Public Lands Initiative in Congress

A state legislative committee changed its mind this month about supporting the Wyoming Public Lands Initiative in Congress.

The Select Federal Natural Resource Management Committee had decided in July not to write a letter supporting the Wyoming Public Lands Initiative Act of 2021, which U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyoming, introduced last year.

But during a Nov. 4 meeting, the committee reconsidered its decision, directing state staffers to draft and send the letter.

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‘We should support them’

Wyoming Rep. John Winter, R-Thermopolis, who represents a portion of Fremont County, spoke against the federal legislation in July based on his opposition to designating “more wilderness areas in the state.”

He reiterated that position this month, but Winter also noted that the WPLI Act would remove the Wilderness Study Area designation from lands that could then be opened up for “multiple-use management” – like the Copper Mountain and Whiskey Mountain areas in Fremont County.

“In order to enhance our use of (that) land … we need to get that resolved,” Winter said. “That’s my biggest concern – that we get something done with this whole effort to at least resolve the matter over multiple-use management of these lands.”

The Act does designate some new wilderness areas, Winter said, but at least those were agreed upon by local residents and county-level government officials.

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“We should support them,” Winter said.

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