Anti-Wilderness Bill Again Rears Its Ugly Head
SHARE Act would allow roads in the Bob Marshall, Scapegoat, Absaroka-Beartooth, and other wilderness areas
This week, the House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on a bill that would allow any government entity – local, state, or federal – to build roads and allow motorized vehicles on American public lands currently protected as Wilderness areas. Montana Congressman Greg Gianforte is a member of the House Natural Resources Committee.
This bill runs counter to the values of an overwhelming majority of Montanans. As a 2014 University of Montana poll shows, 78% of Montanans think that wilderness is a good thing for our state. As a 2015 Colorado College poll shows, 77% of Montanans believe protecting natural areas for future generations is “very important.” With numbers like these demonstrating how much Montanans prize the Bob Marshall, the Absaroka-Beartooth, the Bitterroot-Selway, and 12 other wilderness areas, voting against this bill should be a no-brainer for Rep. Gianforte
The bill, deceptively named the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreation Enhancement Act (HR 3668) (SHARE), purports to maintain existing access for hunting, fishing, and shooting sports on public lands. The legislation is, however, a classic bait and switch. It contains provisions that would allow a variety of public agencies to build temporary roads, construct dams, or advance commercial logging in designated wilderness areas under the pretense of improving “access” for sportsmen and women.
This deceptive approach didn’t work when the bill was introduced in 2014 and reintroduced in 2016. It died in both of these Congressional sessions, as it should have.
Thankfully, Montana hunters and anglers know a bad bill when they see one, and they tend to take issue with those who believe roads would “enhance” the Anaconda-Pintlers or the Scapegoat. Every year Montana has one of the highest per capita rates of resident hunters in the country. MWA represents thousands of those sportsmen and women within our membership. We work hard to protect their outdoor traditions every day and ardently oppose efforts to build roads in any of our 15 wilderness areas, which together represent some of the finest wildlife habitat and cleanest waters in the United States.
We hope Rep. Gianforte will stand with the people he represents and support wilderness conservation.
We encourage him to work with the rest of our Congressional delegation to advance Montana-made ideas with strong support back home, including community-driven collaborative solutions such as the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act and the Kootenai Forest Stakeholders agreement. Montanans. These made-in-Montana solutions deserve a champion in the U.S. House.
- Gabriel Furshong, MWA interim director