Transferring Lands Would Limit Access

I’ll take my chances on federal land management

By Greg Schatz

Citizens have been using public land in Montana for over 200 years – for mining, grazing, logging, hunting, fishing, packing in wild country and many more activities. These uses can continue into perpetuity as long as the federal government hangs on to these lands and we work together on the management of these lands.

My wife and I have spent most of our lives packing horses throughout these public lands. I received a call a couple of years ago to be in a collaborative group called the Whitefish Range Partnership. It was a group of users representing many groups that came to a consensus as to how the federal lands in the Whitefish Range should be included in the forest plan. The extreme groups on both sides chose not to show up or to quit partway through. It took a year-and-a-half, it was not easy and no one got everything they wanted, but in the end there were 26 different, diverse groups that signed onto the agreement.

Some days, as a user, dealing with the management of federal lands is not easy, but if our federal lands are given to Montana they will be sold off to the highest bidder and we will lose all access. If the land is given to Montana we will not receive any federal money to manage these lands. Why would we? The state owns the land. Just think of the millions of dollars spent on firefighting in Montana this past summer, there is no way Montana could fund all that. I’ll take my chances on federal land management.

Without federal ownership by the citizens and for the citizens of the United States, access to these lands as we have known it for the past 200 years will cease to exist.

Greg Schatz
Columbia Falls

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