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JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — Wresting control over vast swaths of federal land in Wyoming from the U.S. government and transferring management to the state would be costly and would not provide the benefits that proponents of the idea suggest, a study has concluded.
"The land management trials, conundrums, and conflicts encountered would largely be the same for the state that exist under present management," according to the study by Jackson-based Y2 Consultants for the Wyoming Office of State Lands and Investments.
The Jackson Hole News & Guide reported (http://bit.ly/2enHOhI) this week that the study was triggered by 2015 legislation, cost $75,000 and looked at how realistic it would be for Wyoming to manage most of its federally owned public lands.
"Ultimately, without significant changes to federal law, the greatest challenge would be that the state would be inheriting the same bureaucratic maze of overlapping, entwined, often conflicting federal mandates established in the labyrinth of laws and directives laid out by Congress," the report said.
The study also found that state management of federal land without major changes in federal law would not result in "substantial gains in revenue" for Wyoming.
It added: "Certainly not enough to offset the enormous costs such an endeavor would likely entail."
Some lawmakers and others have argued that federal management hinders the development of lucrative resources on the land.
But the report found that a management transfer likely would not achieve better-managed federal lands that are more reflective of the concerns of local communities.
Wyoming officials who want more say in how federal lands in the state are managed should become more involved in federal land management through existing mechanisms like state-level Natural Resource Policy Plans, which must be considered by federal land managers, the report said.
Those plans outline local government and citizen preferences for use of federal lands for things like livestock grazing, travel management or oil and gas extraction.
"These plans would allow for more timely and robust influence of federal land management actions across the state," the study said.
Forty-eight percent of the land in Wyoming is owned by the federal government and there are hundreds of federal employees in the state involved in management of the federal land.
The report did not address the transfer of title of federal lands to the state of Wyoming.
The federally owned lands assessed in the report total about 25 million acres, and are administered primarily by the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Reclamation. About 5 million acres of designated wilderness, national conservation areas, national parks and other classes of land were not included in the assessment.
Information from: Jackson Hole (Wyo.) News And Guide, http://www.jhnewsandguide.com
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