I identify as many things, but two things that are true of me is that I am a conservationist and a Republican. From these two perspectives I’d like to share my take on a bill Sen. Steve Daines is working to move through Congress called the Montana Sportsmen Conservation Act. The name of this bill suggests that it was created with the hunters and anglers of Montana in mind and would protect our wild lands and waters.
This bill, however, would remove land and water protections from three wilderness study areas around our state totaling over 100,000 acres. These areas are valuable destinations for our sportsmen precisely because they are wilderness study areas. This bill would not introduce new protections or conservation measures for these places but would instead place them in general management where the Forest Service will gain more discretion to pursue resource extraction and the potential for development will increase.
Development pressure is a major issue across our state currently and is sure to only grow over time. I’m concerned about how development and recreation pressure is affecting wildlife across a lot of our public lands too. I think these issues have not been adequately considered in the drafting of this bill. For these reasons, I encourage Sen. Daines to retract the Montana Sportsmen Conservation Act and ask Montanans for help in crafting a vision for how our wilderness study areas should be managed in the spirit of maintaining the current fabric of our communities.
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