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Wildlife Advocates See Pros And Cons Of Trump's Conservation Platform

Cynthia Lummis

Environmentalists around the West are looking hard at what a Trump administration means for issues like wildlife conservation and federal land takeovers.

National Wildlife Federation President Collin O’Mara said, on the campaign trail, Donald Trump and his son, Donald Trump Junior, both expressed disapproval for the idea of putting federal lands in state control.

“I mean, Mr. Trump himself in different interviews talked about keeping public lands public and not selling them off. So we’re hopeful that he’ll continue to espouse that position. His son was very articulate on the matter,” said O’Mara.

But O’Mara said his organization has concerns about Trump’s position on climate change as a hoax cooked up by the Chinese. He says warming temperatures are damaging the habitats of imperiled species around the West. O’Mara says his group will argue that creating energy jobs and reducing CO2 levels can happen simultaneously.

O’Mara said he’s glad to see that two of Wyoming’s congressional delegation are poised to take prominent roles in the new Trump administration though. He said that’s a good sign that Wyoming’s collaborative approach to conservation could eventually become a national model. U.S. Senator John Barrasso will serve as the chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, and former U.S. Representative Cynthia Lummis is on the short list for Interior Secretary.  

“Representative Lummis has been thoughtfully looking at ways to do a better job at species conservation the last several years,” said O’Mara. “And we’ve had areas where we’ve agreed and areas where we disagree. But she’s engaged deeply on these issues.”

O’Mara says Wyoming’s approach has kept the greater sage grouse off the endangered species list by bringing industry to the table with conservationists. But he says if Trump scraps Obama’s clean air and water plans, it could undermine all the work Wyoming has done to protect the species, putting the sage grouse on the list after all.

Melodie Edwards is the host and producer of WPM's award-winning podcast The Modern West. Her Ghost Town(ing) series looks at rural despair and resilience through the lens of her hometown of Walden, Colorado. She has been a radio reporter at WPM since 2013, covering topics from wildlife to Native American issues to agriculture.
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