Guest Column: BLM’s Rock Springs Plan: An Argument for Federal Land Transfer

Sen. Bob Ide writes, "It’s time for the state of Wyoming to exercise its sovereignty and demand that the federal government fulfill the promise made back in 1890."

September 29, 20234 min read

Bob ide 9 29 23
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

I have long advocated for transfer of federal lands to the state of Wyoming, not only for the sake of our state’s economy, but also for the sake of the principles of freedom established by our nation’s founding fathers. These brave and brilliant men knew that liberty could only survive with a restrained federal government. They envisioned a union of states- not one monolithic, behemoth national government.

That’s why they believed the federal government should only control a small portion of America’s land, to include Washington D.C., military installations, and other properties necessary to carry out the functions of government as spelled out in the Constitution. Upon statehood, every territory was promised by the federal government that most (if not all) of the land within the territory would be transferred from the feds to state sovereignty and jurisdiction. The founders knew that if you control the land, you can control everything.

 Today, our founders would hardly recognize our nation. In Wyoming, the federal government controls 48% of the state’s surface and 62% of our subsurface mineral rights. Not long after our statehood, the federal government began to ignore its promise to transfer our public lands to state sovereignty and jurisdiction. This is the case for all U.S. states west of the Wyoming- Nebraska border. By contrast, the federal government owns less than 5% of the lands in North and South Dakota respectively, and less than 1% of the land in New York.

 The dangers of federal control have always existed but are made more evident as southwest Wyoming watches Biden’s Bureau of Land Management threaten to block nearly all human contact with millions of acres of federal land. The BLM admits that their plan will have devastating economic consequences for the State of Wyoming due to the lockout of mineral extraction and livestock grazing.

Destroying the agriculture and energy industries has always been the goal of radical environmentalists. It was only a matter of time before they came after recreationalists. The BLM’s new plan seeks to lock hunters and anglers out too. So much for it being labeled “public land.” 

The BLM’s new plan seems to have angered conservatives, liberals, recreation enthusiasts, and even wild horse advocates.

Unfortunately, each of these groups and all Wyomingites have even more to be concerned about. The BLM claims control over millions of acres just like the Rock Springs Management Area all over Wyoming- and it seems that control over 48% of the state’s surface just isn’t enough.

The federal government is now moving forward with its purchase of the Marton Ranch in Natrona and Carbon Counties. This is purportedly the largest private land purchase by the federal government ever in Wyoming. If successful, what’s to stop the feds from doing the same thing to this parcel and all the others they claim control over within our border?

It’s time for the state of Wyoming to exercise its sovereignty and demand that the federal government fulfill the promise made back in 1890. Our state’s recreators, energy extractors, and agriculture producers - not to mention the land itself - would fare better under the control of Wyomingites. 

But in the end, this isn’t about the economy, agriculture, energy, or recreational access, all of which are extremely important.

This is about tyranny versus the rule of law. We can no longer stand by and allow the federal government to unlawfully claim control over half of our state. We owe it to our founding fathers and future generations to fight for the union they envisioned.

I intend to sponsor legislation challenging this federal land empire and protect Wyoming from traveling down the road of territorial bondage.

Sen. Bob Ide

Senate District 29, Casper

Share this article