To the editor:

Public lands in Wyoming and the West are, by definition, for everybody. These lands have been managed for multiple use by the people of our state, country and world for more than 50 years.

A simple effort to create a day of recognition of the diverse recreational benefits of all public lands has met resistance at the Wyoming Legislative session again this year. 

Other states use annual Public Lands Day events to get people outside to participate in service projects and give something back to the natural resources they utilize throughout the year. 

A proposal to include multiple use in the title of the bill, and the official name of the annual day, ended up preventing the bill from advancing last year. Oil and gas development proponents have again made efforts to change the name, and the spirit, of the proposed bill.

The recent Colorado College 2019 State of the Rockies poll showed Wyoming residents overwhelmingly support public lands with 70 percent saying the ability to live near, recreate on and enjoy public lands is a significant reason they live in the West. And 91 percent of residents, according to the poll, say they believe the outdoor recreation economy is important for the future of Wyoming. 

No one is trying to change the fact public lands are used for things other than recreation. Oil and gas development remain a part of the Wyoming landscape.

Reserving public lands for our citizens is uniquely American. No other country embraces this concept like the United States of America. Public land is our conservation legacy. 

House Bill 99, Wyoming Public Lands Day, is not an effort to eliminate any of the uses of our public lands; it is only an effort to celebrate what they mean to us as Wyoming residents and Americans.

(s) Len Fortunato


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