Gov. Mark Gordon on Tuesday didn’t shy away from sharing his enthusiasm for Wyoming’s abundant publicly owned and government-administered landscapes.

Speaking from Jackson Hole Airport, the governor pointed out that he was standing in a national park revered for its climbing. To the north, in Yellowstone, was the world’s first national park. Down south, he said, is one of the “coolest” national monuments, in Lincoln County’s Fossil Butte. And then there’s an abundance of national forest and Bureau of Land Management property — all the public’s — to enjoy.

“We are truly blessed to live in Wyoming,” Gordon told a crowd gathered to fete the airport’s just-finished stormwater system (see story on facing page).

Wyoming’s 33rd governor then launched into reading a declaration that tied the ribbon on the creation of Wyoming Public Lands Day. The annual tribute, set for the fourth Saturday of September, was approved by the Wyoming Legislature during the 2019 session.

The bill, sponsored by Teton County Rep. Andy Schwartz, narrowly made it through its third reading in the state Senate, passing by a 16-to-13 vote.

Votes of nay trickled in from Republican Sens. Eli Bebout, Brian Boner, Anthony Bouchard, Hank Coe, Dan Dockstader, Ogden Driskill, Larry Hicks, Lynn Hutchings, Dave Kinskey, Bill Landen, Glenn Moniz, Drew Perkins and Cheri Steinmetz.

Schwartz ventured to the airport to introduce Gordon and to see his legislation through.

“It’s celebrating the value of our public lands in Wyoming,” he said.

A commercial jetliner took off from the runway, roaring overhead and momentarily interrupting the representative’s speech.

“Go out and either do projects on those lands or just go out and enjoy them,” Schwartz said. “Or, in this particular public land, maybe fly somewhere, because this is also public land.”

Grand Teton National Park, where he spoke, leases 533 acres to Jackson Hole Airport.

In his proclamation Gordon listed off the virtues and utilitarian values of the federal and state property that occupies around 53% of Wyoming.

“Whereas, the multiple use of public lands provides the value to the state’s economy through open spaces, a diversity of mineral resources, grazing for livestock, forestry products, wildlife and recreational opportunities,” Gordon said, “and whereas, those multiple uses contributes tens of thousands of jobs for citizens of the state.”

Those lands, the governor said, are the shared birthright of every resident of Wyoming.

Contact Mike Koshmrl at 732-7067 or env@jhnewsandguide.com.

Mike has reported on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem's wildlife, wildlands and the agencies that manage them for 7 years. A native Minnesotan, he arrived in the West to study environmental journalism at the University of Colorado.

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