Governor Freudenthal opposes NREPA
by Governor Freudenthal's office
May 12, 2009
(Cheyenne) – Gov. Dave Freudenthal expressed his "unequivocal opposition" today to a proposed federal bill known as the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act.
In a letter to U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., the Governor criticized H.B. 980 that would designate 23 million acres of public land in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Washington and Oregon as wilderness.
"I have no doubt that the sponsors of H.B. 980 are well-intentioned. But even the best of intentions, when ill-conceived and poorly informed, can have a devastating impact on those of us that must live and work in their wake," he wrote. "Please communicate to your colleagues that this legislation should be soundly defeated in the event it is even granted further hearing."
The text of the Governor’s letter follows.
May 12, 2009
The Honorable Cynthia Lummis
United States House of Representatives
1004 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Re: HR 980; The Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act
Dear Congresswoman Lummis:
Please accept this letter as my unequivocal opposition to HR 980, the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act. This piece of legislation does not recognize the realities of living and working in a state like Wyoming. I would hope that no further action is taken to move this ill-conceived legislation forward.
This bill circumvents all processes in law which currently allow for local, public input into land use allocations. As with roadless, it is my belief that land use decisions should be made as locally as possible, with everyone having a seat at the table. In my view, legislating broad brush land use restrictions on specific parcels of federal land without prior input and review by landowners, local units of government, and all public land users removes a necessary step not only for decisions tied to wilderness, but other prescriptions. To convert these acres of BLM and Forest Service lands to wilderness leaves the citizens of Wyoming without any discussion of the propriety of the multiple uses in which citizens have participated by careful planning, lease arrangements and thoughtful permitting.
Beyond the semantics of a wilderness designation, of course, is the practical management complications that such a designation brings. The bill all but ignores locally-crafted plans to prevent or fight wildland fires. Outside of New York City, those of us that live in close proximity to wilderness understand that the wilderness designation eliminates vital options used by federal agencies and local governments to protect the lives of citizens and the properties upon which they live and work. This makes no mention of the burgeoning issue of pine beetle infestation in the West and a clear need to try to protect our remaining– green forests – but also the other resources that are affected by this epidemic, namely streams, wildlife habitat and soil, water and air quality generally. It also makes no mention of the tremendous impacts on other land uses, such as agriculture, hunting, fishing, mining, oil and gas and timber harvest.
In addition to wilderness, the bill also dictates that tremendouslengths of streams and rivers be designated as Wild and Scenic. Creating additional Wild and Scenic stream segments does not seem wise when measured against the very finely tailored and heavily vetted Wild and Scenic River designation which was recently made under the legislation commemorating the legacy of Senator Craig Thomas. As you are well aware, these include significant portions of the Snake River and its tributaries including the Hoback and the Gros Ventre Rivers. Clearly, Congress had the chance to be more expansive in the realm of Wild and Scenic river designations in Wyoming and chose a more locally palatable and accepted course. Surely the logic of the Congress has not shifted so drastically in the course of two months to justify the action countenanced in HB 980.
I have no doubt that the sponsors of HB 980 are well-intentioned. But even the best of intentions, when ill-conceived and poorly informed, can have a devastating impact on those of us that must live and work in their wake. Please communicate to your colleagues that this legislation should be soundly defeated in the event it is even granted further hearing.
Click here for a printable PDF of the Governor's letter to Cynthia Lummis.
Wilderness designation proposed for Fremont, New Fork Lakes, Wyoming Range - By Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online, April 21, 2009
Wyoming Wildlife Federation, Audubon Wyoming, do not support NREPA - By Pinedale Online, April 24, 2009
NREPA would lock up land, eliminate multiple use, sustainable communities - Joint release from Sublette, Lincoln & Uinta Counties in Wyoming, April 25, 2009
Counties unite against NREPA - By Sublette County, April 25, 2009
The Wilderness Society is not lobbying for H.R. 980 - Pinedale Online, April 28, 2009
Pat Aullman to attend Pinedale H.R. 980 meeting on April 30th - By Pinedale Online, April 28, 2009
New NREPA wilderness proposal map for Sublette County - By Pinedale Online, April 29, 2009
Contact information for House Resource Committee Members & NREPA Sponsors - By Pinedale Online, May 2, 2009
More on NREPA wilderness expansion - By Pinedale Online, May 5, 2009