WY GOP candidate wants to open Yellowstone National Park up for drilling
WY gubernatorial candidate Taylor Haynes [Facebook]

A Republican gubernatorial candidate in Wyoming said that if elected, he would open Yellowstone National Park up to drilling and mining and threatened to arrest federal officials still working in the state after he took office, the Casper Star-Tribune reported.

"In whichever county they attempt to have any official activity, they will be arrested for impersonating a law enforcement officer in Wyoming," Haynes told the Star-Tribune, adding that he also expected most officials already living in Wyoming to take him up on offers to work for the state under his prospective administration after January 2015.

"They live here. They have families here. They have lives," he was quoted as saying. "They'll have the opportunity to use their expertise for the state."

Haynes' plan for Yellowstone and the state's other national parks stems from his argument that the federal government can only own 10 square miles of land per Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17 of the constitution. He told the Tribune he wants the state to take over the management of land currently held by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, as well as Devils Tower National Monument and Grand Teton National Park.

However, the Tribune reported that the state constitution stipulates that Wyoming would give up claims to ownership over federal land in exchange for being granted statehood following the Civil War.

Article 21, Section 26 of the text reads in part, "The people inhabiting this state do agree and declare that they forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within the boundaries thereof, and to all lands lying within said limits owned or held by any Indian or Indian tribes, and that until the title thereto shall have been extinguished by the United States, the same shall be and remain subject to the disposition of the United States and that said Indian lands shall remain under the absolute jurisdiction and control of the congress of the United States."

As The Raw Story reported on Monday, parts of Yellowstone have been closed down after officials found many of the asphalt roads inside had been compromised by heat from the massive supervolcano underneath the ground.

Haynes and Tea Party-backed state Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill are challenging incumbent Gov. Matt Mead in the Aug. 19 GOP primary.

WyoFile reported on Monday that tensions have increased between state Republicans since 2012, when traditional GOP members were joined in the state House by an influx of Tea Party lawmakers and "constitutionalists." Hill's challenge stemmed from an unsuccessful attempt on the part of Mead and House members to strip her of her duties amid accusations that she created a "hostile workplace environment."

[Image via Taylor Haynes for governor official Facebook page]

[h/t National Parks Traveler]