GOP Gubernatorial Candidate In Wyoming Would Open Yellowstone National Park To Grazing, Mining

Wyoming long has had an independent streak in its right-leaning politics, but a position on federal lands staked out by a Republican gubernatorial candidate still might cause some in the state to catch their breath: Taylor Haynes would open Yellowstone National Park to mining and grazing.

Mr. Haynes, whose diverse background includes degrees in urology and mechanical engineering and time spent ranching, said if elected one of his first tasks would be to send letters to the federal land-management agencies telling them to turn their lands over to the state and get their operations out of Wyoming.

“Then, in whichever county they attempt to have any official activity, they will be arrested for impersonating a law enforcement officer in Wyoming,” he told the Casper Star-Tribune last week.

The 68-year-old Republican bases his plan on the grounds that the U.S. Constitution allows the federal government to own just 10 miles of land, in Washington, D.C., for offices and operations, and that the state could do a much better job of managing the federal lands.

How successful would Mr. Haynes' proposal be in terms of the state's tourism industry? Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks likely would fare well for their iconic status. But other park units in the state? Do you remember Shoshone Cavern National Monument? The site outside Cody, Wyoming, was designated in 1909 by presidential proclamation, and given to Cody in 1954. Have you heard of it?

Before Mr. Haynes can put his plan to work, he has to win the GOP gubernatorial nomination next month (current Gov. Matt Mead, a Republican, is seeking re-election), and then the general election in November.


These sort of Yosemite Sam politicians are a dime a dozen in places like Wyoming, Idaho and Utah, and they can dream of privitizing places like Yellowstone and putting it into the hands of their ranching constituents all they want, but in the end, it's just empty rhetoric. Yellowstone is too globally significant for the wanton desires of a handful of blowhards.

Welcome to the wild insanity of the Sagebrushers.

Wyoming, like Utah, Idaho, Nevada and a host of other states (most of them bright red on the maps) are very heavily subsidized by Eastern taxpayers. (To say nothing of donations to local economies by travelers.)

C'mon Eastern taxpayers. Wise up and take back your tax dollars that support the silliness of politicians like this one. What a rude shock it would be to the citizens of those states who actually vote for clowns if they suddenly had to support all their infrastructure and government operations without those Eastern dollars.

Well, to be fair, most of California, and large metro regions like Denver, Seattle, and Portland do put money into the federal coffers, so they are helping support public lands. Although, I believe places like Yellowstone and the Tetons are pretty much solvent and don't need too much additional federal funds to run, especially when they require ...ahem FEES to enter. They are self-sustaining. You never see this sort of rhetoric being yelled in the Washington Cascades or at the national parks in California. Wyoming ranks 47th in GDP, even with all the mininig and ranching that goes on there, so obviously that's not the true golden ticket to economic prosperity, unless you're one of a handful of feudalists, which of course this guy sounds like he is one..


Do you have a source for where Haynes said he wants to open up Yellowstone to grazing and mining or is that your inference from his stated desire to turn federal lands over to the state? (BTW - I disagree with his Constitutional argument)

Read the Casper Star-Tribune story that's linked to.

And of course that story says no such thing. The closest you get is:

“It depends on the need and the national defense situation,” he said. “Those (parks) would be last on the list.”

That is a far cry from "would open Yellowstone National Park to Grazing and Mining" which implies that is his primary intention.

Its interesting that the assumption of Federal Lands isn't even an issue on his website's list of issues.

The article clearly states all federal lands "would be up for lease for mining, drilling and grazing," so that would indicate Yellowstone would be included. Whether he would do it today or 10 years from now, Haynes did not say park lands would be off-limits.

Whether they're first on the list, or last, they would be open to mining.

And judging from the furor over fracking in the name of national defense and could be a short list.

Here is a link to the article. Read it please.

To make it a bit easier for you, here is the story's lead paragraph: "If elected Wyoming governor, Republican Taylor Haynes intends to take back federal lands and could open Yellowstone National Park to drilling, grazing and mining, he said."

The article clearly states all federal lands "would be up for lease for mining, drilling and grazing,"

The article states that but Haynes doesn't - at least not anywhere in that article. The article even corrected its own headline using the word "could" rather than "would" in the first sentence. In otherwords that is their conjecture not Haynes stated intention.

Haynes did not say park lands would be off-limits.

So by not declaring them off limits that automatically means he will open them up? In fact the article did indicate that the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality would set priorities to protect what Haynes described as the “personality of Wyoming,” such as beautiful forests. In otherwords, all previously federal lands would not be opened up.

Lee - to make it a bit easier for you, quote marks are used when citing something a person says. No quote marks, its not the speakers comment.

EC, you've got it wrong about quote marks. Sometimes comments are paraphrased but the intent is the same as if it came from a direct quote.

Beyond that, if Haynes objected to the article, published two days ago, he would have made it well known by now. Especially in a small state like Wyoming.

Regardless, the Sagebrush rebellion types have a long and distinquished past in Wyoming and for quite some time there has been a small movement there to put Yellowstone and Wilderness lands into their hands. Nothing new. Same fiddle tune, just a different day. If James Watt couldn't succeed as head of the DOI, then neither will a governor.

Sometimes comments are paraphrased but the intent is the same as if it came from a direct quote.

And sometimes (perhaps more often than not) comments are twisted to try to create hysteria or support the reporter's bias. That is why I put far more weight on what someone actually says than on someone elses interpretation and reshaping.

BTW - here is what he actually says on his website:

The natural beauty and wide open spaces found in Wyoming draw millions of visitors annually.

Our rich Western and pioneer heritage are important factors as well.

Thus, this resource must be guarded jealously.

Doesn't sound to me like someone that is about to rape and pillage Yellowstone

I love that term--Yosemite Sam politicians...

duplicate comment deleted

Regardless, the Sagebrush rebellion types have a long and distinquished past in Wyoming and for quite some time there has been a small movement there to put Yellowstone and Wilderness lands into their hands.

True. And that is legitimate issue to debate - state vs federal ownership. What is not legitimate is attributing statements of position to a person that never made those statements with the goal of creating hysteria or denegrating the debate.

So EC, you've gone from agreeing -- even citing the candidate's own words -- that Haynes would place Yellowstone "last on the list" for mineral leasing, but on the list nonetheless, to "attributing statements of position to a person that never made those statements..."

Which is it? By your own words, "quote marks are used when citing something a person says." Haynes didn't say Yellowstone was off the list. He said it was on the list.


Now you try to twist "last on the list" to an intent? Lets be real. Everything is on the list. if circumstances called for it, Congress would open Yellowstone for mineral leasing. It might be last on their list but it would be on the list. Would it be fair for me to write an article that says "Congress could allow the draining of Yellowstone Lake and building a nuclear power plant there". The statement would be true, as they have the power to do so, but it would be totally misleading as they have no intent to do so. It would be the last thing on their list.

Eric, he did state that he wants to put the federal lands into the hands of the state! That would mean Yellowstone. That would entail the Absarokas, the Gros Ventre, the Washakie, the Wind Rivers, etc. All places that the federal government has done a fairly good job in preserving in my opinion. I've seen many sagebrushers over the years want to see Lamar Valley turned into another cattle pit. They've also wanted to see the park manage the wildlife to become basically a game farm for hunting elk so that the cattle ranchers that run outfitting businesses can make more of a profit.

I think any of us that has lived in both the east and west, can attribute that turning the public lands of the west over to state hands would be a bad move. It would lead quickly to privitization of a vast amount of that terrain, and then those lands would be carved over and developed like the vast marjority of the eastern US. If anything, the call should be to create more public lands in the East. I've lived around some Sagebrushers, and a majority of them have never lived anywhere else then the same spot they grew up. They haven't a clue what it would be like living in a sea of privatized land. IF they want that, they should spend a few years living in the Eastern US, or Europe for that matter, and then deciding if their philosophical views are what they want.

Relax, boys and girls. There is nothing in Yellowstone worth mining. It's all volcanic rock. The timber burned out 20 years ago. As for grazing, sure, a few cows could live there, but again, most of Yellowstone is "worthless" land. This is hype straight out of the 1940s when Congressman Frank Barrett got a bill through Congress to abolish Jackson Hole National Monument. FDR didn't sign it, so it died. The fact of the matter remains that neither Yellowstone nor Jackson Hole were ever prime commercial lands. Haynes has his nose out of joint because he lives in Wyoming and really believes there is "something there." Gold! Silver! Copper! Well, if that had been true, there would no Yellowstone Park. Last I heard, the caldera is more than 40 miles across and bubbling up through the roads. Boom! Good-bye Wyoming. Seriously, where do we find these idiots, and why do we even give them the time of day?

Dr. Runte, there is hydrothermal energy available to be exploited. That has been proposed a few times by some of these folks.

And ec, for goodness sakes even if God Herself brought it to you carved on stone tablets, you'd still try to troll her wouldn't you?

But hey, keep it up. You can be very entertaining sometimes.

Apologists net out to be supporters, no matter how they try to twist the words.

This guy Haynes is a mouthbreather just showing how desperate he is in his election effort. Congrats to him for being silly enough to get his 15 minutes of fame.

The Real Wyoming State Government: Lest We Forget !

Ranchers Hated the idea of a Grand Teton National Monument

A national monument, armed ranchers and a movie actor

In 1942, Rockefeller advised U. S. Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes that he was unwilling to hold the land much longer. Since there appeared little possibility of getting a bill through Congress, in 1943, President Franklin Roosevelt issued an executive order, which created Jackson Hole National Monument and contained the Rockefeller lands. This was, perhaps, the single most controversial action in the history of the park.

Wyoming Gov. Lester Hunt threatened to remove "any federal official who attempts to assume authority in the monument area," although he never did. Cowboy actor Wallace Beery joined a group of armed ranchers, including future Wyoming Gov. and U.S. Sen. Cliff Hansen, who protested by trailing their cattle without a permit across the grounds of the monument. The Park Service ignored the trespass.

National media picked up the story, Time Magazine reported the ride, and the nationally syndicated conservative newspaper columnist Westbrook Pegler compared Roosevelt's action to Hitler’s annexation of Austria. The reaction of many local residents was expressed in a quote reported years later by Murie in his Wapiti Wilderness: "We gave them the Tetons! What more do they want?"

Congress quickly passed a bill abolishing Jackson Hole National Monument. Roosevelt vetoed it, and three more congressional attempts to abolish the monument never made it out of committee. The state of Wyoming filed suit against the monument superintendent (State of Wyoming v. Franke) to prove that Jackson Hole could not legally be preserved as a national monument because the region was of no particular scientific or historic interest. Evidence to the contrary presented at the trial was convincing, however; and the case was dismissed on a technicality.

Eric, he did state that he wants to put the federal lands into the hands of the state!

No disagreement there

That would mean Yellowstone.

Maybe but not necessarily. Other calls for the transfer of federal lands have been more narrowly focused. It would be interesting to here from him exactly what he does and does not want included. But then, since it isn't even a campaign issue on his website, I'm guessing it is far from a priority.

I think any of us that has lived in both the east and west, can attribute that turning the public lands of the west over to state hands would be a bad move.

Well I have live in both the east and west and I don't think it is necessarily a bad move.

Seriously, where do we find these idiots, and why do we even give them the time of day?

People make them up to have a strawman to attack.

Ideally, here at the Traveler we'd like to interview a number of political candidates this year to explore their views on public lands. But that's an ambitious project, and would require some substantial monetary resources to commission the writers to generate the interviews. Figure a minimum of $500 per story. We could create a special fund-raising drive if there's enough interest (both in the stories and in contributing to the cause).

I think any of us that has lived in both the east and west, can attribute that turning the public lands of the west over to state hands would be a bad move.

Well I have live in both the east and west and I don't think it is necessarily a bad move.

Of course. Since you are a realtor, you would profit off the exchange of titles from those lands. Some of us want to see beyond such greed and see lakes, valleys, and mountains protected from the onslaught of misguided development. Let's hope the west never fully turns into what happened east of the Mississippi.

I wish people wouldn't refer to other people as trolls. It adds nothing useful to the discussion.

And ec, for goodness sakes even if God Herself brought it to you carved on stone tablets, you'd still try to troll her wouldn't you?

Moreover, ec is not a troll, even if such characterizations were warranted generally. He has a point of view and if he expresses it vigorously, as far as I recall he does so reasonably.

Let's please desist from the name-calling.

I agree Gary.


The chances of me profiting off the sales of state land are zero. And, in fact, I endorse many policies that would be negative for Realtors, i.e I would get rid of the mortgage tax deduction as part of comprehensive tax reform; i am against federal flood insurance; I don't contrubute to the local realtor PAC because I don't endorse many of their positions and I protest the mandatory PAC fees charged by NAR for the same reason. But keep throwing out those strawmen, they make for your best arguments.

EC, Don't you find it ironic that someone who makes their living off the NPS is lecturing you on what they think you would do if the opportunity arose? Then another NPS employee calls people "trolls" and anyone who questions the NPS has an "entitlement mentality". What a cabal here. Last I checked this magazine is called National Parks Traveler, not National Parks Employee Advocate and the best example of entitlement mentality I have seen is this attitude from NPS employees expecting us to treat them like the royalty they perceive themselves to be. Forgive us self employed, taxpaying citizens for having an opinion. And you wonder why folks question this bureaucracy with a pervasive mindset typified here. Hello pot, meet kettle.

Yes Smokies, I do see the irony. Yet, I dont sense so much that they are looking for us to treat them as royalty. I believe the problem is that we have different visions. Rather than respecting that differance and rationally discussing it, their inability to put forth valid arguments leaves them only the tactic of slandering their opponents ethics, morals or motivations.

Oh, and for the record, if Haynes truly wants to open Yellowstone to development or sell it off to private interests, I would be totally against it. I just don't see where he has ever advocated that position and believe he is being unfairly castigated for a position he doesn't hold solely because he is a conservative.

ec I always enjoy your well thought out debate. Your posts always give reasoned thought from your vision. My vision would not let me vote for this guy if I were voting in this election. So even if I agreed with some of his positions, I would hope that there is a better candidate available. Thus, I would not be defending him. Same thing happens in the liberal party.


Thans for your kind words. I don't know that I would vote for him either, at least in the primaries, but i don't see anything about Yellowstone that would make me vote against him.

Of course, I don't live in WY so I couldnt vote for or against him anyway.

I would think that if his position on Yellowstone and other federal areas were not as stated in the press...he would restate his position. I do not live in Wyoming either.

Conservatives would spend all their life "restating" their position if they had to respond every time they were mischaracterized.

Conservatives would spend all their life "restating" their position if they had to respond every time they were mischaracterized.

I think it's safe to say that applies to anyone involved in politics, right, left, down the middle.

Probably so Kurt. Point is that just because he has not publicly refuted the article doesn't make it true.

BTW. I wrote his office and suggested he contact you or make his position clear through a post. It will be interesting to see if he or his office responds.

The problem with labels is the presumption they create in the mind of the person hearing the label. That is why, even as a historian, I don't use terms like liberal, conservative, Republican, or Democrat. All of them are moving targets. I prefer that the action speak for itself. This to remind us that what is happening in Wyoming is nothing extradordinary in the least. Ranchers, miners, and loggers have always had the attitude that the federal government stands in their way. But does it? Under the General Land Office of the Department of the Interior, finally abolished in 1935, the best of the West went to the settlers, railroaders, and all the rest. The leftovers are the national parks, national forests, and BLM lands. If someone had desperately wanted them before 1935, they could have had them--and had them for free. They didn't want them and so passed them by. As a government surveyor, Ferdinand V. Hayden surveyed Yellowstone in 1871, and his geological assessment remains as true now as it was true then. It's mostly basaltic rock. It's too high for major grazing and agriculture. Why not make it a national park? Believe me, if Yellowstone ever turns out to have 40 billion barrels of oil instead of 1600 square miles of simmering magma, Mr. Haynes will not have to protest a thing. The park will come undone in an instant as gas-guzzling Americans east, west, north, and south demand the "sacrifice." We are a people of consumption, not of preservation. Our "best idea" has always hung by a thread.

Alfred - Our population has almost tripled since 1939. What was then unattractive land is now the best available.

Perhaps this should make some think about the consequences of the disaster that is currently occuring on our southern border.

Mr. Haynes has not said anything that has not been said before. It appeals to thier contituents so he pretty much has to say it.

EC-Your immigrant correlation is way off base. There are a half a dozen things I want to bring up to counter your comment, but this is not the forum.I am not saying you are the kind of perons who blocks a bus full of children from entering a processing facility for medical screenings, but I seriously question the morals of any human being who goes out of thier way to NOT help a child in need, and who exploits the situation for political media coverage. Show some empathy man.


You think it is showing empathy to encourage parents to abandon their children and send them unaccompanied and without resources to a foreign country?

This is a self made disaster. We don't have the resources to "save" every child in the world. We are providing false hope to these children and their parents who end up dieing in the river or in the desert or exploited by gangs and other vermin or ravaged by disease. That isn't empathy, it is cruelty.

Our country is already overwhelmed by those that are unable or unwilling to care for themselves. We don't need to encourage more to flood our borders.

You and Adam Kwasman.

"When we try to pick out any one thing in the universe by itself, we find it is hitched to everything else." -- John Muir

EC and Rambler are both right, and therein lies the problem. Numbers do matter, but yes, we are a country displaying empathy, and so we keep refusing to face the numbers. Let's get right to the bottom line: Can all 7 billion people in the world live in any one country--the United States, China, Russia, Australia, or anywhere else? Of course they can't, but we would like to think they can live here because that is how Americans are predisposed to think. "Give me your tired, your poor, your hungry masses yearning to breathe free." It's written in celebration of a national park. No one wants to be the Scrooge that closes the door. In Wyoming, Mr. Haynes wants us to think he can pry the door open again by allowing all of the riches to flow out of Yellowstone. The reality overwhelms him, too. Read Peggy Noonan's excellent commentary last Saturday in The Wall Street Journal. That perfectly sums it up. There are needy children on the lawn of America--again--but our own house is falling apart. We can tax the rich, for a time, but the repairs are beyond us all. And now comes the drought in California. It seems we were warned about all of this in the 1960s, but hey, the party was still going on.

Al, agree with you except I'm not convinced Haynes want to drain the ricjes of Yellowstone. Show the evidence.

The evidence? Because he hasn't cleared the air on his website after dozens of newspapers picked him apart. All he needs to say is that the reports are false. As my dear mother used to say, where there's smoke, there's fire, and this guy's pants are burning off. You mean he doesn't have a campaign staff talented enough to throw him some water? Repeat after me, Mr. Haynes. I love Yellowstone and would never do anything to change it--harm it--or remove that wonderful name "national park." Just who do you think I am? James Watt? Yes, as a matter of fact, I do.

“I did state that I would drill in Yellowstone, and I will admit to you all: I made that statement to draw everybody’s attention to Yellowstone. I have no intention of drilling for anything in Yellowstone,” [Haynes] said.

In other words, his disclaimer should have read: "I did not close off all but one lane to the George Washington Bridge, but I sure got your attention!"