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Pine Creek Lake. Photo by Walker Stole
May 05 2015

Sen. Tester and Rep. Zinke Take a Stand on Behalf of Public Lands

Sen. Daines votes again in support of selling our special places

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Over the last month, there have been a flurry of votes putting Montana’s Congressional delegation on record over selling our public lands. Senator Jon Tester and Congressman Ryan Zinke have both made bold stands on behalf of our outdoor heritage and way of life by voting against House-Senate budget resolutions supporting the sale of our public lands.

Last week, Rep. Zinke voted against the House-Senate budget resolution because it contained a provision that would create a legal mechanism for the sale of our public lands. The Republican-led resolution passed 226-197, on a mostly party-line vote. By voting against the resolution, Rep. Zinke demonstrated a willingness to fight for our blue-ribbon headwaters, glorious wildlands, and traditional hunting grounds even it means running up against people in his own party.

“As a fifth-generation Montanan, I simply could not vote for the [resolution],” Rep. Zinke said in a statement shortly after the vote. “I have said before, and I will say again: Montana is not for sale.”

This week, the Senate debated the same budget resolution that passed the House, including the identical provision dealing with the transfer and sale of public lands.

Sen. Tester today voted against the budget, showing once more his leadership on defending our outdoor way of life. “This budget is bad for Montana,” he tweeted, “because it opens up the door to the sale of our public lands.”

The resolution ended up passing the Senate by a vote of 51-48.

Sen. Steve Daines had the opportunity today to change course after hearing from Montanans that he was on the wrong course when he chose to cast last month’s deciding vote that advanced the potential sale, transfer, or exchange of Montana’s wilderness areas, wildlife refuges, and national forests.

But Sen. Daines declined that opportunity and instead voted for a House-Senate budget resolution that puts places like the Madison Range, the Whitefish Range, and the Bob Marshall at risk of being sold to the highest bidder.

Thankfully in Montana, we have a bipartisan coalition of elected officials willing to stand up to special interests that are pushing this dangerous idea of transferring and selling our public lands. Sen. Jon Tester, Rep. Zinke, and Governor Steve Bullock have all stood with Montanans and voted against attempts to advance the lands transfer agenda. Just yesterday, Gov. Bullock vetoed the one and only lands transfer-related bill to squeak through the Montana Legislature.

Unfortunately, Sen. Daines has taken a different course.

We still hope that Sen. Daines will heed the message that Montanans – including outdoorsmen, business owners, and the rest of the Congressional delegation – are sending him and other elected officials: Montana is not for sale.

Please join us in thanking Rep. Zinke and Sen. Tester for taking a courageous stand on public lands and defending our outdoor heritage as Montanans.

Senator Tester’s staff can be reached at (406) 449-5401.
Congressman Zinke’s staff can be reached at (406) 502-1435.