Federal plan, conservation or is it for control?

Harriet Hageman, a Cheyenne attorney who has specialized in water and natural resources conservation litigation addressed the members of the Uinta County Farm Bureau this week in Lyman. PIONEER PHOTO/Virginia Giorgis

LYMAN — Cheyenne attorney Harriet Hageman was the keynote speaker at the Uinta County Farm Bureau meeting Monday night in Lyman.

Hageman has earned a niche in the legal field by honing her skills by gutting environmental protections in courtroom battles. Her overall message Monday night was all of the procedures the new administration is trying to implement such as the 30 by 30 plan is not about conservation, but about control. Hageman has spent over 30 years specializing in water and natural resources litigation. During her career she has mostly focused on challenges to federal and state regulations on land and water use.

President Biden’s plan of 30 by 30 was executed in an executive order (14008) in January a week after he took office. The plan was to protect 30 percent of U.S. land and water — over 720 million acres — by 2030. The plan was renamed Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful in May. Hageman said this program was, “Biden’s land grab.” She said this was basically the federal government’s attempt to “double their footprint, not about conservation.”

This executive order the president signed was one of 1.5 million he signed shortly after he took office. The report, according to Hageman, was the plan was set to tackle three challenges — the disappearance of nature, climate change and inequitable access to the outdoors. However, she also pointed out the federal government already owns 48.19 percent of Wyoming's total land, 30,043,512 acres out of 62,343,040 total acres. Wyoming is ranked eighth in the nation in federal land ownership. And now the government wants to double or triple that amount of ground. She said this is because the federal government wants control over the state and other states.

And considering most of the land in the east is privately owned, the major portion of this land selected for protection will be in the western states and much in the Rocky Mountain region.

She noted the federal government is continually trying to take control of water from the states and talked of her career in fighting for people’s rights over their water and resources. She reiterated, “Don’t give up.”

Hageman also talked about Nebraska Governor Ricketts who has hosted meetings and worked to overcome the “Boondoggle,” the 30 by 30 plan as the state is 97 percent privately owned. Getting to 30 percent would require the loss of personal property rights and in turn the loss of revenue to manage the state. She noted this was a “bright spot” in what was going on in the nation as Ricketts was standing up for Nebraska and state rights.

She said the issue of locking up land is already happening in Wyoming and referenced the plans on the east side of the state in which there is a proposal about the possibility of creating a 38,000-acre block of state and BLM administered lands that would be open for outdoor recreation opportunities. The Bureau of Land Management Rawlins Field Office, in partnership with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Conservation Fund has proposed this Southeast Wyoming Land Exchange. Further plans include a proposed acquisition of the 6,647-acre Mule Creek Ranch in Albany County and a pool of up to 35,231 acres of scattered federal lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, from which lands may be selected to be sold or exchanged to complete the project.

This issue will be discussed through Zoom as a webinar and members of the public may participate by registering in advance at https://blm.zoomgov.com/webinar/register/WN_AwrNbC0dReeQrlDQ_1wbuQ. The meeting is scheduled for Oct. 13, from 5:30-7 p.m.

When discussing the America the Beautiful plan Monday night, Hageman said, the plan, according to the federal government is for conservation. She asked, “Who better to do this than you people,” and waved her hand to include the Farm Bureau members at the meeting, noting they live off the land and protect it to protect their livelihoods.

In reference to America, Hageman said, “This is the best country, most profitable. There is adequate housing, food and energy...needs to remain an food independent nation.”

In addition, Hageman said the federal government already controls a major portion of the ground through the National Parks system and the National Forest. She said, “The last several summers, major fires have started on the national forests. Why double or triple the ground under the control of the federal government, when they are not doing the job?”

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