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Pine Creek Lake. Photo by Walker Stole
Jan 20 2015

Protecting Our Outdoor Heritage at the State Capitol

Join us in demanding that our elected officials keep public lands in public hands


Passage of the Heritage Act has given us good reason to celebrate. It was an incredible success that reminds us that our values predominate in Montana and that the system for protecting public lands still works. Bipartisan efforts that have so commonly defined how Montanans solve problems have once again made our state and country a better place.

But the ink was barely dry on the Heritage Act when a radical minority of state legislators arrived in Helena with their sights set on taking away our success – by taking the public out of public lands. Montana’s 64th Legislature convened this month, and we are ready to counter this minority and kill their bills and schemes geared towards transferring ownership of federal lands to the state.

The transfer agenda is, as we know, a thinly veiled attempt to sell off our public lands to the highest bidder.

Propped by extremist think tanks and backed by out-of-state charlatans, Sen. Jennifer Fielder (R-Thompson Falls), Rep. Kerry White (R-Bozeman), and others have been building a legislative plan, hosting public forums, and travelling across the West to push their transfer agenda, an agenda that strikes not just at our outdoor heritage, but at our way of life. Fielder and her allies in the Legislature are already working on dozens of bills designed to lead Montana into taking ownership of public lands.

If they succeed, the gates would lock on some of Montana’s most treasured hunting grounds, fishing holes, camping grounds, and hiking lands. It is a reckless and irresponsible plan, one that Montanans can’t afford and voters flatly reject.

MWA has already started fighting against this plan and for our public lands in the halls and chambers of the Capitol, reminding our elected leaders that public lands are crucial to who were are as Montanans.

We have ramped up efforts to influence decisions in our state legislature, and we are excited to be playing a leading role in shaping public lands policy for the future of our state. Partnering with community, business, and faith leaders, as well as with teachers, organized labor, and sportsmen, we are building a strong and diverse coalition that leads us on a path toward more effective public lands management.

And we’re asking you to join with us in standing up for our wild places during this legislative session.

– Clayton Elliott, MWA's state policy director