Opinion

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Guest Column

It’s Time for the Land Board to Do its Job

The Horse Creek Conservation Easement in Eastern Montana is an incredible opportunity that would open 20,000 acres for hunting and recreation in a part of the state with limited public access

Two thousand eighteen is an election year and hunters, anglers and other Montana voters are paying close attention to the decisions being made by our elected leaders before they head to the polls this fall.

One such decision currently front of mind for the Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is the Horse Creek Conservation Easement in Eastern Montana. This incredible opportunity would open 20,000 acres for hunting and recreation in a part of the state with limited public access. This easement proposal, funded with sportsmen’s dollars — not taxes — has not only garnered unanimous endorsements from the Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks Commission and Governor Bullock, it enjoys widespread support from Montana’s sportsmen and women, conservation groups and citizens across the state. It’s also the wish of the landowners and within their rights as property owners.

Unfortunately, Matt Rosendale, along with Corey Stapleton and Elsie Arntzen — three members of the State Land Board — voted to indefinitely table consideration of this unique opportunity.

Rosendale states “During my service on Montana’s land board, I’ve shown that I will work to expand access to public lands for hunters, anglers and others who simply want to enjoy Montana’s great outdoors…” Well, Mr. Rosendale, which is it? Montanans don’t like double-speak. You can’t tell us you support conservation, public lands and expanding access for Montana hunters while voting against even considering one of the great conservation and public land opportunities in a generation.

Mr. Rosendale and the rest of the land board have a golden opportunity to prove to Montana sportsmen and women that they really do have our best interests in mind by voting in favor of the Horse Creek Conservation Easement.

Montana Backcountry Hunters & Anglers encourages sportsmen and women to contact Mr. Rosendale and the rest of the Land Board to appeal to their public commitment to hunters and anglers. Call on them to add this issue to the upcoming Land Board agenda, and to vote in favor of the Horse Creek Conservation Easement. Further delaying this decision is an affront to Montana’s sportsmen and women and the legacy of public access that Mr. Rosendale has publicly stated his commitment to.

The next Land Board meeting is scheduled for July 16th. Don’t wait. Email the Land Board now at landboard@mt.gov.

John Sullivan is an avid sportsman and the board chair for the Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. He owns a small business and lives with his wife in Missoula.