Whenever I hear a politician suggest that Montana public lands would be better served being managed by state or private interests, as Tim Sheehy recently did on a radio show, I can’t help but wonder why they believe Montana residents would be interested in footing the bill and bankrupting the state.
Managing public lands is expensive. Forest Service, Park Service, and Bureau of Land Management lands see fire fighting costs, road maintenance costs, recreational facility costs, public safety program costs, etc. Sheehy’s land transfer idea is wildly unpopular and, frankly, unrealistic. In 2014, reporters across our state dug into this idea and estimated that transferring public lands would leave Montana with an annual budget deficit of at least $367 million dollars.
In the radio show, Sheehy blatantly avoided discussing what taking on the financial responsibility of managing these additional public lands would mean for individual taxpayers in our state. It wouldn’t be pretty. It also would be devastating to the future of these public lands. Transfer is an irresponsible idea and indicates that Sheehy would be an irresponsible choice to represent Montana in the U.S. Senate.
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