Wyoming legislation seeks a conservation fee at Yellowstone

By: 
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — A proposal introduced in the Wyoming Legislature advocates for imposing a fee at Yellowstone National Park to help pay for wildlife conservation efforts in the states surrounding the park.

Sublette County Rep. and cattleman Albert Sommers, the proposed resolution’s primary sponsor, said the idea is to generate money for the states of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho to deal with 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, and these animals exist in and out of the park, depending on the time of year,” Sommers, R-Pinedale, said. “Really, 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?”

The states cannot impose fees in Yellowstone. The resolution requests that the U.S. Interior Department and the National Park Service enter into an agreement with the three states “to impose a wildlife conservation fee” at Yellowstone.

“It’s just saying, ‘Hey, would you guys all please get together and discuss this issue and see if it’s possible?’” Sommers said.

The Wyoming resolution does not specify how the fee would be assessed or what the amount would be, the Jackson Hole News & Guide reported .

At least one conservation advocacy group, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, has voiced its support.

“I think it’s really encouraging that the Wyoming Legislature is seeking out some creative ways to fund wildlife conservation,” said Chris Colligan, the coalition’s wildlife coordinator. “It’s an opportunity for us to put aside differences and find solutions to fund wildlife conservation in the Greater Yellowstone.”

Yellowstone officials declined to comment on the proposal.

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