Ravalli County MWA Members Overwhelm Commission Meeting over Daines WSA Bill
Once again, our members prove they are amazing
What a week.
On Monday, we helped launch the campaign for Our Land, Our Legacy – a diverse group of Montanans committed to defending our wilderness study area.
On Wednesday, Senator Jon Tester’s Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act got a hearing in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, as did Senator Steve Daines’ bill (S. 2206) striping protection from a half million acres of our wildest, most pristine public lands, including the Big Snowies, Middle Fork Judith, West Pioneers, Sapphire, and Blue Joint Wilderness Study Area. In the hearing, Sen. Daines claimed Montanans widely support his bill.
Not an hour or so later, at a Ravalli County Commission meeting in Hamilton, our members and supporters proved just how wrong Sen. Daines’ claim is.
The meeting focused on Sen. Daines’ bill, specifically on whether or not the county commission should rescind a letter it sent the senator in support of removing protection from the Sapphire and Blue Joint Wilderness Study Areas.
We asked our members to show up to the meeting, and show up you did.
At least 250 people flooded the county commission meeting. A staggering 153 people signed in as opposed to Senator Daines’ bill, only 41 in support. Over the course of the next few hours, 52 people testified against the bill, 20 in favor. Moreover, 78 people sent the commission emails opposing the bill, compared to 20 in favor.
Unfortunately the Commission refused to reconsider their position and rescind their letter of support for Sen. Daines’ bill.
But this meeting was not a loss for us.
It was a win. It was a win because we showed resoundingly that this bill does not have local support, undermining one of Sen. Daines key arguments. We proved that there is no county in this state that Sen. Daines can take for granted. On a day when Sen. Daines should have been basking in positive press about his successful Senate hearing, instead he was faced with article after article citing the tremendous local opposition to this bill in Ravalli County.
With your voice, you changed the story. Together, over the next several months, we will write a new one, one that recognizes the deep love that Montanans have for wild places and the passion with which we will fight to protect them.
What to do now? First, make sure to sign the letter at Our Land, Our Legacy calling on our congressional delegation to find a better solution for our WSAs than what Daines’ wants. Next, send an email for the record to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, at firstname.lastname@example.org, opposing S. 2206.
Thank you for standing up, taking action, and changing the story.
- Kayje Booker, MWA state policy director