Wyoming Legislature Angles to Annex Federal Lands

Posted by: Becca Sage on Feb 6, 2015

It’s the beginning of a new year and the 2015 Wyoming State Legislative Session is in full swing. There are many reasons to pay attention to the bills passing through the legislature, but why is it important to NOLS?

There are several bills being proposed in this year’s legislative session that are worthy of attention. One profoundly influential bill concerning NOLS operations is House Bill 209, the Transfer of Federal Lands. House Bill 209 mimics bills of the past, proposing that control over public lands in Wyoming ought to be transferred from the federal government into the hands of the state.

horsepacking Students on a NOLS horsepacking course travel through Wyoming's public lands

Why is this a concern? One of the greatest assets to NOLS as an outfitter is the integrity of its federal land permits. Without the permits that NOLS has acquired within Wyoming’s wilderness, NOLS operations in the state would not be possible. Transferring control of public lands to the state threatens the status of existing permits in the federal permits system, jeopardizing accessibility to NOLS classrooms.

In addition to placing NOLS classrooms in jeopardy, House Bill 209 could potentially have detrimental effects on Wyoming’s travel and tourism economy. Lending control of public land to the state encourages exploitation of the land’s resources for the greatest economic means, which does not always represent or promote the true beauty and value of the land. Furthermore, state lands are not available for camping. This fact, as we are all well aware, has the ability to negatively impact NOLS, as well as the everyday Wyoming recreationist.

As the 2015 legislative session presses on, NOLS will be keeping an eye on House Bill 209, among several other bills that may affect the school. If you would like to view the content and status of this bill or any other bills being proposed, visit the Wyoming Legislature website.

Becca is the spring 2015 Stewardship and Sustainability intern at NOLS.