The Center for Western Priorities, a Colorado conservation non-profit, has released a scorecard that ranks states based on their policies on public land, outdoor recreation, and energy issues. The group sought to highlight where western states are doing well and where there’s some room for growth.
Out of the eight states evaluated, Wyoming placed at number four. Colorado ranked first due to its funding of outdoor recreation access and encouraging responsible use of public lands, among other reasons.
Jesse Prentice-Dunn, Advocacy Director at the Center for Western Priorities, said Wyoming had some bright spots, particularly in wildlife conservation programs. He points to an independent state agency overseen by a citizen board appointed by the Governor.
“The Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resources Trust which has a lot of funding for wildlife conservation programs, some access to state trust lands, decent stream access.” Prentice-Dunn said, "and notably, since energy development is such a big issue in the state, have a number of safeguards and policy put in place as that has really come to the forefront.”
But, Prentice-Dunn said the state could do more to take advantage of the recreation’s economic potential.
“I think harnessing the state’s lands and that the natural beauty that it has, for some more economic gain, that’s one thing it could improve on,” he said.
Prentice-Dunn said the scorecard was a brand-new idea that likely will not become annual. He said he hopes the scores will push states to address their weak points with stronger policies.