This week, an opinion piece published on Slate.com claimed that a new Wyoming law makes it illegal to collect data on federal lands.
The Wyoming Farm Bureau and the Office of State Lands and Investments says that is not accurate. Wyoming State Lands Assistant Director Jason Crowder says Wyoming has no jurisdiction over federal lands, but the law could impact state lands on a case by case basis.
Brett Moline of the Wyoming Farm Bureau says his office was among those who asked for the law because they wanted to give farmers and ranchers a way to punish those who trespass on private property. He says it’s difficult to get a criminal conviction—and the recently passed legislation puts the burden on the researcher or others to know if they are on private land or not.
“They will need to have the permission of the landowner to come on that property to collect data, it does not affect what happens on federal lands.”
Federal lands have their own set of data collection rules. Moline says the burden will be on the individual to know if they are on private land or not.
But many say that burden is too great and could penalize non-data gathers who wondered onto private property by mistake. Opponents of the legislation also say that unlike current trespassing laws, the legislation did not allow for the consideration of intent. University of Wyoming officials also fear that the bill could hinder research.