New Mexico Sen. Pete Domenici, R, reluctantly conceded last month that his bill on public-land grazing needed at least clarification. Hunters and other recreational users of the public lands apparently made their opposition clear: They cannot live with legislation that puts ranchers above everyone else (HCN, 8/21/95).
Now another Western Republican, Sen.
Craig Thomas of Wyoming, may have heard a similar message. Thomas'
land-transfer bill, which would allow states to acquire 270 million
acres of land now managed by the Bureau of Land Management, is
silent about public access. That omission has prompted sportsmen
and conservation groups to criticize the measure for potentially
kicking them off public lands they have hunted, fished and hiked
In a recent interview with the
Casper Star-Tribune Thomas said he "may re-evaluate" the issue of
guaranteed public access to the lands. But he continued to insist
that because BLM lands are not a "public heritage," they are less
worthy of federal protection than national forests or parks. Thomas
said he doesn't expect Congress to act on the land transfer bill
until next year.