Residents of the Flathead Valley have recently been witnesses to what can happen in public lands management when the public isn’t adequately consulted before decisions move forward. I’m referring to the permitting issues for Holland Lake Lodge. I think (and hope!) what has happened there will provide lessons that both federal agency employees and our elected officials learn from. I’d like to bring it to Sen. Steve Daines’ attention, as I see him moving a piece of public lands legislation forward in the U.S. Senate currently without first investing in gathering public input.
The bill is the Montana Sportsmen Conservation Act (S. 2216) and it would change how nearly 100,000 acres of Montana public lands are managed. The creation of this legislation wasn’t preceded by public meetings or listening sessions, and Daines hasn’t indicated that he has sought the input of local interest groups such as the Friends of the Little Belts. Montanans deserve and rightfully demand more transparency around important public land decisions.
Senator Daines, your legislation looks like it would negatively impact elk, deer, and moose populations. I encourage you to set your current draft aside, and meet openly and honestly with Montanans to determine what should be the future of our wilderness study areas.
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