Protect Wilderness Study Areas

Daines hides behind reports of some local opposition to these wildlands

Seldom seen Sen. Steve Daines is running in Montana and hiding in D.C. From his Beltway desk, like drone warfare, he remotely lobs acts of destruction into Montana.

Daines recently introduced the “Protect Public Use of Public Lands” Bill, which proposes to abolish most Montana Wilderness Study Areas protected by the late Sen. Lee Metcalf’s Montana Wilderness Study Act. These areas are last best wildlands carefully vetted by Metcalf, a far-sighted and much-loved statesman who recognized their value.

Daines hides behind reports of some local opposition to these wildlands, and ignores widespread local and national support for protection. In targeting the Blue Joint and Sapphire WSAs in the Bitterroot, Daines leans on the parochial opinions of Ravalli County Commissioners who advocate sacrificing these jewels. While focusing on the local commissioners’ myopic antipathy to these national public wildlands, Daines ignores the fact that Sen. Lee Metcalf, the author of the act, was a Bitterroot local. The WSAs are his legacy, established just before he died.

Even if Daines does not value these special wild places, I would think he would respect senatorial courtesy and the legacy of Metcalf at least as much as the business-as-usual attitude of Ravalli County commissioners.

Larry Campbell