It’s Time to Consider Transferring Public Lands

It’s time to give serious consideration to turning federal public land over to the State of Montana so people in Montana are accountable to the citizens for management of our public land

By Clarence Taber

As a U.S. Forest Service retiree, I know the benefits of a well-managed forest. Over the last 20 plus years, I have seen the federal government’s “on the ground” forest management deteriorate. Lack of timber sales and excessive access closures have not served the public or the resource well.

Many years ago I helped found Montanans for Multiple Use (MFMU) as a way to involve the public in the decision making process of forest planning. We opposed the Forest Service spending public funds to rip out dozens upon dozens of perfectly good access routes. We won’t accept the Forest Service’s reduced timber harvest and bad land management practices. We have lost our access and have overgrowth that causes unstoppable wildfires. That day is upon us and it is time for change.

Montanans For Multiple Use advocates responsible, balanced use of public land. he Forest Service has destroyed multiple use roads, restricted access reserving our public lands for a select few. Today’s Forest Service is controlled by out-of-touch Washington D.C. bureaucrats, liberal judges, and environmentalists who don’t care about balance or have a clue how to achieve healthy forests.

For many years MFMU has tried working with the Forest Service in good faith to protect access and achieve a forest managed for all citizens, a showcase of forest health, and a healthy economy. But still they keep destroying access, making it harder to manage the land, fight fires, hunt, recreate, or gather firewood and berries. Today the Forest Service sells only 15 percent of the merchantable timber as specified in the approved forest plan.

The solution is change. It’s time to give serious consideration to turning federal public land over to the State of Montana so people in Montana are accountable to the citizens for management of our public land, our access and our economy.

This fall, Montanans for Multiple Use plans to sponsor an open, professionally moderated debate to air out both sides of the Transfer of Public Lands issue. As soon as the date is set everyone will be invited.

Clarence Taber is president of Montanans for Multiple Use. He lives in Kalispell.

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