The Lincoln County Commissioners have drafted a letter in opposition to a possible land transfer between the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The proposal would take 150,000 acres of BOR land in the vicinity of Fontenelle Reservoir and turn it over to the USFWS as part of the Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge. “It’s an unbelieveable land grab is what it is,” said County Commissioner Kent Connelly of the proposal. The county is concerned with access and multiple use of the Fontenelle area that will be lost if such a transfer takes place, Connelly said. “There is a huge contingency of people that make use of that area,” he said. “That would be lost. It would also take the land, which used to be privately owned, and keep it out of producing hands and tax base hands. We are very concerned with that.”
In the county letter opposing the transfer of the land, the county commissioners state that “many areas of public concern need consideration” before such an action takes place.
“We feel it very important that we be involved in the land transfer process since residents of Lincoln County use that area for grazing and trailing purposes, energy development and recreation,” the letter states. “We are very concerned about the proposed transfer and the implications this will have on multiple use management of Federal lands.”
In the letter, the commissioners stated they would support “any alternative that promotes the disposal of BOR land to fee title ownership.”
The county also stated it would be in support of “the transfer of BOR lands to the BLM permanently so that current multiple land use management of livestock grazing, recreation, oil and gas development, etc., continues.”
“For years these lands have been managed in a balanced manner which has maintained grazing rights, allowed oil and gas development, provided for wildlife habitat and recreation opportunities, supported open public access and the economic base of the County,” the letter states. “At minimum, we ask the BOR maintain ownership with the BLM continuing to manage the lands for multiple use. We request that the BLM and BOR refrain from any decision of land transfer until a full and open public process is completed.”