The "vision document" for the greater Yellowstone ecosystem is a policy document that, if left unchallenged, could hamper the multiple use of federal lands, a Wyoming legislative panel was told last week.
The House Agriculture Committee was urged to send to the House floor a joint resolution asking Congress to direct the U.S. Department of Agriculture to withdraw the draft version of the document.In its current form, the document places an emphasis on maintaining the "naturalness" of Yellowstone, Grand Teton National Park and six surrounding national forests in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana.
Representatives of various groups advocating the multiple use of federal land in Wyoming said the document proposes an end to many of those uses. They also fear the document might soon become a management guideline for other federal lands in the state.
"Those concepts (in the document) go to the heart of the matter," said Bill Schilling, executive director of the Wyoming Heritage Society.
"They talk about a philosophical switch for planning on federal lands throughout the country and particularly in the West," he told the representatives. "If it is allowed to proceed, the concepts in it will have a profound effect not only on the Yellowstone region, but on federal lands throughout the state."
Representatives of the agriculture and oil industries said they are concerned the document stresses less access to national forest lands for their industries.
"This gives an unprecedented part to the (National) Park Service to have a say-so over the management of multiple use lands," said Cheryl Feraud, representing the Petroleum Association of Wyoming.
"The concern I have is much broader than a single use," said Bob Budd of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association. "It has to do with our economic base, our social fabric and the opportunities my children will have in this state. All we are asking is that as a state we have some opportunities to guide what the future of the state will be."
However, Stephanie Kessler, executive director for the Wyoming Outdoor Council, said the draft document does not specifically preclude any uses of the Yellowstone area, although it does put an emphasis on uses that are compatible with the lands.
"The vision document is kind of like the Bible," she said. "You can take a sentence out of it to support any one thing you want to promote."