Montana Rep. Greg Gianforte is sponsoring H.R. 5148 and H.R. 5149, which together would release more than 800,000 acres from Wilderness Study Area protection. The lands are managed to protect their wilderness characteristics until it’s decided to whether to approve an official designation. Stone-Manning, the National Wildlife Federation’s associate vice president for public lands, will testify in a House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing on the bills this Thursday.
Stone-Manning said: “In Montana, our love for our public lands brings people of all stripes together to find solutions to the thorny issues, but in this case, Rep. Gianforte has short-circuited the process and cut out the public. These bills strip protections from public lands that contain exceptional wildlife habitat and clean water that supplies water for both our communities and world-class trout streams. The lands support hunting, fishing, and recreation that contribute to the state’s $7 billion outdoor recreation economy. Congress should step back until a community-driven solution can be put forward, based on the values Montanans share and what makes sense on the ground.” Here is Stone-Manning’s written testimony.
Dave Chadwick, executive director of the Montana Wildlife Federation, added “All over Montana, people are rolling up their sleeves and working together to develop local plans to designate some areas as wilderness while setting aside other lands for other uses. Rep. Gianforte’s bills are not resolving the question of what to do about wilderness study areas, they are blowing up the local conversations underway to resolve that question.”
A poll by the Montana Wildlife Federation earlier this year found that 75% of Montanans are more likely to support forest management plans developed through local collaboration by conservationists, snowmobilers, loggers, hunters, landowners, local businesses, and other stakeholders.
The House Subcommittee on Federal Lands hearing starts at 10 a.m. ET, 1324 Longworth House Office Building.