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.