Public Lands

(MWA photo)

Keeping Public Lands in Public Hands

We're building a pro-public lands movement that honors our outdoor way of life

Study after study and poll after poll confirms what we all know in our bones: Montanans benefit immensely from the rich and varied American public lands that surround our towns and that are a part of our communities.

As a 2019 poll released by Colorado College shows, three quarters of Montanans say that the ability to recreate on public land was a significant factor in choosing where to live, topping the cost of living, economic opportunity, and even the quality of local schools. And demonstrated by several studies at Headwaters Economics, public and protected lands are powerful economic assets that attract jobs and lead to stronger economic growth. In Montana, public lands generate $2.2 billion in wages and $286 million in state and local tax revenue as well as support 71,000 jobs.

And public lands run deeper than our pocketbooks. At our Rally for Public lands on January 11, 2019, Montana Governor Steve Bullock called out the importance of access to our public lands: “We cannot and must not leave to our kids and grandkids anything less than the unrivaled outdoor experience and heritage that our parents and grandparents worked so hard to preserve for us.”

We couldn’t agree more, and we are dedicated to making sure that we, and the generations that come after us, continue benefiting from and enjoying these special places. That requires educating and reminding our elected officials about the myriad ways that public lands sustain our way of life and quality of life. On our website, in our social media, in the halls and offices of our state and nation’s capitols, we’ve been reminding our elected officials and other decision-makers that our public lands are essential to who we are as Montanans and Americans.


"We cannot and must not leave to our kids and grandkids anything less than the unrivaled outdoor experience and heritage that our parents and grandparents worked so hard to preserve for us." - Governor Steve Bullock


For the last three legislative sessions, we have stood shoulder to shoulder with thousands of Montanans at the Rally for Public Lands, organized by MWA and our public lands partners. Each time we sent a powerful message to our legislators and Congressional delegation: public lands belong in public hands.

This rallying cry has united Montanans around the state and across the political spectrum, showing just how much Montanans revere our public lands. At the same time, we know that it’s not enough to keep these lands in public hands; we must also steward, protect, and invest in them so that future generations will have the same experiences on these lands that we enjoy today. 

MWA members and supporters are especially dedicated in their advocacy for public lands, driving in hundreds of phone calls and emails to our elected officials demanding that they not just defend, but also actively support our public lands and outdoor way of life.

Over the last three sessions, advocates from MWA have helped to ensure the continuation and full funding of Habitat Montana, which allows the state to acquire and protect critical wildlife habitat as well as expand access to public lands. We have worked with the Montana Trails Coalition to create and fund the first ever state-level trail funding program. And on the strength of our Rallies for Public Lands, we have shut down efforts to transfer ownership and management of public lands to the state and private interests.

MWA will continue to be at the forefront of public lands policy and advocacy in Montana, working with elected officials across the state and in D.C. to build and advance a pro-active public lands agenda that protects our outdoor heritage and improves our quality of life.

We’ve proven time and again that decision makers listen when Montanans speak up about our public lands, but our work is far from over. We need your support to keep advocating for the places that are so important to our communities and our way of life. Join us today in our fight to secure the future of our public lands by becoming a member today. As part of your membership benefits, you'll receive regular updates on how you can urge our elected officials to do right by our public lands.