Group denies ALEC association

John Stroud
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – A nonprofit organization that’s assisting Garfield County in its dealings with the federal government over protection of the greater sage grouse is not associated with the controversial American Legislative Exchange Council, the group’s director said.

“Our fictional biography sounds a lot more interesting than our actual biography,” Margaret Byfield, executive director of the Texas-based American Stewards of Liberty (ASL), told the Post Independent Tuesday.

“We have no connection to ALEC, and are not a corporate lobbying group,” she said. “ALEC writes and promotes legislation, and that’s not something we do.”

Byfield attended a meeting Tuesday between Garfield County commissioners and U.S. Bureau of Land Management officials to discuss the sage grouse planning process.

American Stewards of Liberty bills itself as a nonpolitical organization dedicated to protecting private property rights.

The group also works with local governments to exert their collaborative rights under federal law on public land management issues, according to the ASL website (www.americanstewards. us).

Several Garfield County residents objected Monday when the commissioners agreed to pay ASL up to $20,000 for its assistance.

They pointed to Internet-based news reports that claim ALEC funds numerous nonprofit groups, including ASL.

Some residents also questioned ASL’s work with the oil and gas industry on similar public land management issues, and said environmental interests should be equally represented.

The county turned to the ASL for assistance as it works with the BLM as a cooperating agency to prepare an environmental impact statement. The study will identify a management plan for protecting the greater sage grouse and the bird’s habitat in northwest Colorado.

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