The flip side of that equation is that many, if not most of us, enjoy living here for the outdoor recreation opportunities, the wide-open unspoiled spaces, the wildlife and the scenery, particularly in areas we consider special or unique. Moreover, …
New proposals by the Bureau of Land Management for managing land in the Big Horn Basin have, predictably, ignited the perennial discussion of balance in the development of land and resources.
Everyone in Wyoming knows, or should know, how important mining and drilling are to the state and to our pocketbooks. Income from the development of our mineral wealth, particularly our energy wealth, is what enables us to enjoy excellent highways, a good educational system and other benefits while enjoying lower taxes on fuel, sales and property than almost every other state. That realization argues for fewer obstacles to further mineral activity in the Big Horn Basin.
The flip side of that equation is that many, if not most of us, enjoy living here for the outdoor recreation opportunities, the wide-open unspoiled spaces, the wildlife and the scenery, particularly in areas we consider special or unique. Moreover, many of us profit because others come here on vacation to enjoy them as well. Those concerns lead many to support restrictions on mining and drilling in some, if not most of the areas under consideration.
Industry argues that both concerns can be satisfied with no further regulation. Development, using today’s improving technology, need not disturb wildlife or permanently scar the landscape.
Others point to concerns of polluted groundwater, destroyed habitat and poor air quality in areas of heavy development, and limits on development are required to limit those problems, if not eliminate them entirely.
Both sides have a point, and that’s the problem for the Bureau of Land Management. The bureau is a public agency, and it must serve the public. But there are several publics out there, so it’s a difficult task, and the bureau needs to have input from all sides.
The bureau’s plan is available on the Internet at tinyurl.com/BLMRMP, and anyone with concerns about the plan has an opportunity to comment through that website. In addition, the bureau began holding public meetings this week to receive public comment, and it will hold three meetings in Park and Big Horn counties next week. The meeting in Powell is scheduled for Wednesday, June 15 and will be preceded by meetings in Lovell on Monday and Cody on Tuesday.
We urge anyone with concerns to take advantage of the opportunity.