Today, Rep. Greg Gianforte introduced a pair of bills to repeal protections for 700,000 acres of wilderness study areas managed by the US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. Under Rep. Gianforte’s bills, these public lands would be subject to expanded motorized use, mining, oil and gas development, and other industrial activities that would degrade wildlife habitat and close off public access.
The public lands targeted by Rep. Gianforte’s bill provide habitat for fish and wildlife and opportunities for Montanans to hunt, fish, camp, and hike. These places are not just abstractions, they are real places to real people.
Montanans know that the best way to make public land management decisions is for stakeholders to work together and have real, transparent conversations. That approach works, and Montanans know it because we have lived it. It is disappointing that Rep. Gianforte would introduce legislation affecting 700,000 acres of Montana’s public lands without holding a single public meeting. Instead of top-down, one-size-fits-all political fixes, our elected officials should be listening to Montanans.