CHEYENNE – Wyoming State Superintendent of Public Instruction Megan Degenfelder submitted a public comment opposing the federal Bureau of Land Management’s new proposed rule regarding so-called conservation “use” of federal lands. If this rule passes, it can severely compromise Wyoming’s ability to realize returns off our state and federal lands by locking up parcels into Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) that disallow multiple uses such as mineral development and grazing. These returns are essential to funding our state education system and other services.
Due to the nature of Wyoming’s intermixed state and federal land sections, with 50% of the surface estate and 65% of the mineral estate owned by the federal government, Superintendent Degenfelder knows from her career in the coal and oil and gas industry that any federal “non-use” has a direct negative impact on leasing and development of adjacent state lands which will decrease the attractiveness and associated revenue generated to fund our public schools. In fiscal year 2021, state lands provided over $100 million to support our public schools. Additionally, Wyoming typically receives over $500 million in federal mineral royalties from production on federal land within our state which pays for education as well as state services. The proposed rule at hand directly jeopardizes education funding in our state, both from state and federal lands.
“Wyoming’s Constitution charges the State Superintendent with general supervision of public schools and being one of Wyoming’s five land commissioners. I have a fiduciary responsibility to make sure our state lands produce sustainable revenue for education purposes. I am fighting against the rule because it jeopardizes my ability to be a steward of our public lands by preventing multiple use on federal land and effectively state land contiguous to that federal land.” said Superintendent Degenfelder.
Her comment concluded by asking the BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning to cease this proposed rule and avoid the harsh negative impact this will have on education funding for Wyoming students, families, and our public educators.
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Linda Finnerty, Communications Director