Forests in Focus Initiative Not Transparent

All citizens deserve to know what deals are being made with 5 million acres of our federal lands

By Arlene Montgomery

Gov. Steve Bullock and DNRC Director John Tubbs have been touting the Forests in Focus initiative that has a provision for the state managing federal lands. Wanting to know more I went to DNRC’s website. Some components of the Forests in Focus were highlighted, including the Montana/Forest Service Master Stewardship Agreement, discussions with Montana counties about crafting an agreement for development and implementation of federal projects, a state liaison position at the Forest Service Regional headquarters and federal projects under review.

Since more information about those items was not available on the website I asked DNRC to provide them to me. Their response was that I would have to pay $530.64 to obtain public records that should be readily available. This is an outrage and affront to the open and transparent government that the Montana Constitution provides and that Bullock promised.

All citizens deserve to know what deals are being made with 5 million acres of our federal lands. Instead, public information is being held for ransom. The DNRC website says, “Let’s work together to create the brightest future for Montana’s forests.” Apparently, for DNRC this means keeping the citizens in the dark while backroom deals are being made.

Arlene Montgomery
Bigfork

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