Sunday, February 11, 2018

Wyoming Proposes Conservation Fee for Yellowstone Visitors

Wyoming lawmakers will soon consider whether to start a conversation about having Yellowstone National Park’s millions of visitors help pay to conserve the park’s transboundary wildlife. A joint House resolution calls for establishing a “Yellowstone conservation fee” and sending funds it raises to Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. Sublette County Republican Representative and cattleman Albert Sommers, the bill’s primary sponsor, said the hope is to generate money for issues like wildlife collisions, large-carnivore conflicts and preserving migration routes. “The idea came up that there’s 4 million people going through Yellowstone National Park every year,” he said, “and these animals exist in and out of the park, depending on the time of year. “Really,” he said, “it’s Wyoming’s wildlife, and we have to maintain them and be responsible for impacts that can happen to them and because of them. So why not ask American citizens to pony up and contribute to that?” Because it calls for the imposition of a fee on federal land, the legislation would have little regulatory teeth. The bill does not specify how the fee would be assessed or what the amount would be. Sommers’ goal, he said, is to start the conversation between the three states that contain parts of Yellowstone and the National Park Service. “It’s just saying, ‘Hey, would you guys all please get together and discuss this issue and see if it’s possible?’”he said. It seeks to “provide an opportunity” for Wyoming, Montana and Idaho to “manage wildlife through nonconsumptive uses of wildlife.” People of diverse interests vetted and supported it, Sommers said, from Park County hunting outfitter Lee Livingston to University of California-Berkeley professor and migration specialist Arthur Middleton...more

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