A poll recently released by the University of Montana shows 83 percent of Montanans believe that public lands add to our quality of life. This poll showed very clearly that Montanans stand united in their support for public lands, and their desire to see those lands publicly owned, properly funded and adequately managed.
Then, on June 15, Congressman Ryan Zinke rejected this majority opinion and voted for H.R. 2316 to transfer 4 million acres of National Forest land to “local advisory committees” that would be appointed by state governors. Once transferred, these lands would no longer be managed by the U.S. Forest Service and would no longer be governed by environmental laws such as the Clean Water Act. In doing so, Zinke voted to give away a piece of Americans’ outdoor heritage larger than the state of Connecticut.
As a lifelong hunter, I’m appalled by Zinke’s vote, and I’m furious by his decision to ignore the vast majority of Montanans who want to pass America’s public lands on to the next generation.
Whatever Zinke may say about his views of public lands, we must remember to focus our attention on his actions, and his recent vote tells us that he cannot be trusted with our outdoor heritage.
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