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CHEYENNE -- A legislative committee approved a bill Thursday that funds a $100,000 study about state management of public lands, after words in the measure having to do with the transfer of the title of federal lands were removed.

“We’re not talking about transferring of titles,” Sen. Eli Bebout, R-Riverton, said during a Senate Agriculture, State and Public Lands and Water Resources Committee.  “This is the contemplation of Congress turning over the management.

"So we’re not talking about this study saying, 'How do we own the lands of the state?' because I think that’s a tough sell. I think even though legally we’ve got grounds to do it, Congress isn’t just going to give them back to us. I understand that.”

Senate File 56 states that the Wyoming Office of State Lands and Investments would commission a study to identify lands the state would manage, revenue sources to pay for land management, division of additional revenue that the state could earn from lands, and an analysis of revenue the state is losing through federal management.

Congressionally designated wilderness areas, the national parks and monuments and national conservation areas would not be considered for the study.

Also off the table are lands managed by the U.S. departments of Energy and Defense, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Fish and Wildlife Service.

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Kim Floyd, director of the 18,000-member Wyoming Federation of Union Sportsmen, said his group was concerned that the state would be “taking that land and selling it to private ownership,” he said. “That’s one concern I get.”

Richard Garrett, of the Wyoming Outdoor Council, suggested to lawmakers that they strike out words such as “transfer” of public land to the state.

“'Transfer' is a word with a lot of meaning,” he said.

Lawmakers asked Garrett if his organization would be OK with state management of federal lands. He said his organization is OK with an independent and unbiased study that doesn’t predict any outcomes.

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Reach political reporter Laura Hancock at 307-266-0581 or at laura.hancock@trib.com. Follow her on Twitter: @laurahancock.

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