Gunderson’s “Hoax Highways” Bill Bites the Dust
Lawmakers defeated HB418, a bill that could have led to new roads in Glacier National Park and other wild places
On Thursday afternoon, a bipartisan group of state representatives voted to defeat HB418, the “hoax highways” bill introduced by Rep. Steve Gunderson (R-Libby) that would have paved the way for new roads in Glacier National Park and other wild places all across Montana.
Here’s a statement from State Policy Director Noah Marion.
"We thank the bipartisan group of lawmakers who voted to respect Montana's outdoor way of life and defeat HB418. Public lands, and access to them, are central to our Montana way of life, and this "hoax highways" bill would have opened the door for the state to bulldoze roads across some of Montana's most beloved places, including Glacier National Park. Montanans deserve better than the endless litigation and enormous taxpayer expense that would have resulted had this bill become law, and we look forward to working with lawmakers on policies that will secure the future of public lands and public access across Montana."
The vote literally couldn’t have been any closer - it was 50-50, but a tie vote means a bill fails to advance.
The margin was razor thin but this was a big win for public lands, wild places, and the people who love them. These “hoax highways” aren’t roads in any real sense - they’re overgrown cowpaths, forgotten two-tracks, and long-disused paths, some dating as far back as 1866. They don’t lead to schools, hospitals, or workplaces, and they often run through Wilderness or other protected areas. If the bill had become law, it would have seriously threatened public access, wildlife habitat, and our outdoor way of life. It would have led to endless legislation and made Montana taxpayers foot the bill. It also would have slammed the door shut on future protections for huge swathes of wild public lands across Montana.
We squeaked this one out, but barely. This smallest of margins goes to show just how important every phone call, email, and petition signature can be. A single legislator changing their vote because they hear from their constituents can be the difference between a dangerous anti-public-lands bill passing or stopping; just a few weeks ago, a bill that would facilitate land transfer passed by a single vote.
You can join the effort by signing up for our State Legislative Action Team. We'll send you breaking updates and opportunities to take action to defeat bad bills like HB418.
Thank you so much for speaking up against HB418. Nearly 1,000 of you, many of you on the Legislative Action Team, contacted your legislator over the last few weeks, and it made a massive difference. Rep. Gunderson even read from our blog on the House floor, so you can be sure that together we’re being heard in every corner of Montana!
I hope you’re as inspired as I am and fired up for the next challenge. We can’t do this work without your support. Can you make a $5 or $10 donation to make sure we can keep fighting for the wild places you love, in the Capitol and across the state?
Thank you for your support. I'm looking forward to the rest of the legislature and excited about everything that we can achieve together.
State Policy Director
Noah works to develop state-level policies to protect and enhance our public lands, waters, wildlife, and access to outdoor recreation. He works with elected officials and partners as MWA’s lobbyist in order to advance conservation priorities at the state legislature. He enjoys rafting, fly fishing, backcountry skiing, hiking, and road trips with his wife and two dogs.