Montana has been fortunate to have a leader like Tracy Stone-Manning among its ranks, and the country would be better for her experience as a conservationist and advocate for public lands. We need someone intimately familiar with building the coalitions that public lands require, and Tracy has dedicated her life to developing these relationships – first as Executive Director of the Clark Fork Coalition, and later as Director of the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, and an advisor to the National Wildlife Federation.
Outdoor recreation in Montana requires becoming as familiar with Bureau of Land Management maps as we are with our route home and what the weather has in store for us that day. For that reason, it has not escaped many of us that the BLM has been without permanent leadership for over four years. We have watched with concern as protected lands across the country have been unceremoniously stripped of their designations and offered for lease at low costs. It is a fate that fundamentally conflicts with the sense of stewardship that most Montanans feel for the mountains we climb and fields we cultivate. With more than 8 million acres of Montana lands overseen by the BLM, it has been a failure of our state leadership in Washington, D.C., that more attention has not been paid to this issue.
The current nominee to lead the department offers an opportunity to rectify that lack of interest, and to rebuild the BLM after years of neglect.
Where most Republicans in Congress have been content to lean on partisanship and press the nominee over inflated charges, I encourage Sen. Steve Daines to follow the lead of his colleagues across the aisle and vote for what Montanans want to see most – one of our own, working to preserve America’s outdoor heritage and open spaces.
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