Protecting and Accessing Our Treasure State

There should be a park system that provides access for Montana residents to enjoy our own state

By Matt Regier

As a guy raised loving the backcountry of Montana, my heart sank as I read about the new Glacier National Park entrance quota system. There are so many resident Montanans, like me, that cannot get enough of our Big Sky sunrises or sunsets. We live for fly fishing Youngs Creek in the Bob Marshall or canoeing the Wild and Scenic Missouri below Fort Benton. So, when our great Glacier National Park adopted an entrance system that would require you and I to be lottery winners before we can even enter our own park, I knew Montana had changed for the worse.

Montana outdoors has slowly moved in the wrong direction over the past three decades. House Joint Resolution 13 (2015) was a study done by Montana state government. It found that since the mid-1990s over 21,000 miles of roads to access our public lands had been blocked. We used to manage our forests, now a lumber mill is an endangered species and a sheet of OSB is $50. Try today to get a camping spot at one of our state park campgrounds and you will be met with frustration. Even 15 years ago I could get a backcountry hiking permit in Glacier Park on Wednesday and by Friday we were headed to Hole in the Wall campsite to make perfect Montana memories. I understand our state has been discovered, and we cannot stop that. I enjoy meeting new friends and completely sympathize with out-of-staters who want to move here. I would be here in a heartbeat if I were born in Kansas (no offense to my Jayhawk friends). But when year after year we Montanans see our outdoors changing, access restricted, and costs increasing it is time we start pressing back. I find it devastating that this year as a Montana resident you cannot take your visiting friends for a Sunday drive over Logan Pass. There should be a park system that provides access for Montana residents to enjoy our own state. State parks, national parks, national forests, state lands and wilderness areas all provided for the quality of life we all love and desire. There can be a way to share our state with those visiting as well as to be able to keep our Montana access. We must always fight to keep Montana … Montana. 

Rep. Matt Regier
R-Columbia Falls