People packed into the Sublette County
Library Tuesday to bend the federal
government's ear about its cooperation
-- or lack thereof -- with local
communities and organizations.
Comments during the three-hour meeting
included criticism about the Endangered
Species Act, criticism about expansive
energy development, suggestions for
reforming the National Environmental
Policy Act, and criticism of
heavy-handed federal rule.
Dan Budd, a cattle rancher, told
representatives of the Department of
Interior and Environmental Protection
Agency that the concept of cooperation
was "a farce."
"We cooperate, you dictate," he said. He
said it seemed the only reason for the
federal government to issue cattle
grazing permits is to have someone to
"listening session" -- one of a series
being held around the country -- aimed
to give citizens "an opportunity to
exchange ideas on incentives,
partnership programs, and regulations
that can improve results" in
communities. Promoting cooperation and
eliminating barriers to cooperation are
the key areas, according to the Interior
The department controls management of
much of Wyoming through the Bureau of
Land Management and National Park
Dr. Tom Johnston, Sublette County health
officer, said the federal government
should look more closely at the
aggregate effects of policies.
Specifically, he said the BLM continues
to approve more and more projects that
"are environmentally unsound and present
human health risks."
Johnston said increased energy
development and air pollution, combined
with permitting of development at
Fremont Lake -- Pinedale's source of
drinking water -- shows a "federal
stubborn refusal" to listen to local
will and health issues.
"This suggests to me that Washington
supervisors are less concerned with the
near- or far-term public health issues"
than they are with economic gains, the
doctor said to applause.
Several members of American Indian
tribes said there needs to be more
emphasis on "multiple use," rather than
exclusively energy development.
Wes Martel, representing the Wind River
Indian Reservation tribes, said the
government needs to recognize special
places including the Jack Morrow Hills,
Red Desert and Adobe Town.
Representatives of industry also took
their time at the microphone to talk
about how their companies are working to
protect the environment. Conservation
and interest groups also used the
opportunity to talk about their work.
Mark Peterson, an environmental issues
specialist for the Utah Farm Bureau,
said he supported voluntary,
incentive-based programs versus
regulatory requirements. That sentiment
was echoed by some industry
Louise Lasley, with the Wildlife
Conservation Society, said public input
is key when making public land
decisions, and geography should not
restrict who can provide input.
Others, including Sublette County
Commissioner John Linn and Tyler
Vanderhoff with a consulting group, said
the National Environmental Policy Act
needs to be changed. Vanderhoff said
there should be a time limit on how long
environmental reviews of proposed
development take, and federal agencies
should be more careful to develop
environmental reviews that are
appropriate. He said often a larger
review is used when a more curtailed
review is appropriate.
Linn also echoed statements that more
decisions should be made on a local
level, and once issues reach Washington,
D.C., local people are in a more
Pam Dewell with The Nature Conservancy
said Wyoming needs to "hang on to what
we already have." She said science is
needed in how to mitigate the effects of
the energy boom. "Reward good
stewardship," she said.
Daniel resident Perry Walker told
federal officials turf boundaries by
different agencies are an "impediment to
effective stewardship." He called it a
"sorry situation" and "regulatory
gridlock," and called for an internal
audit of regulatory methods by federal
Lois Herbst with the Wyoming Stock
Growers Association said "bureaucracy is
rampant in our government today." She
criticized the government for not
listening to Wyoming when wolves were
reintroduced to Wyoming.
"We have a voice here in Wyoming that
you could have cooperated with," she
said. People can't use permits on
federal land because of grizzly bears
and wolves, and she wanted to see an
accounting of costs of the Endangered
Species Act. "The total public is never
given the total cost and impact to
communities and to private landowners."
The value of irrigation should be made
known to the public, and other values
ranchers give to public lands, she said
Other states hosting the listening
sessions include Texas, California,
Georgia, Florida, Pennsylvania and
Environmental reporter Whitney Royster
can be reached at (307) 734-0260 or at