SB 442 a Win for all Montanans

Recreating on public land is part of being a Montanan

By Dawn Oehlerich

Everyone who has ever set foot on Montana’s public lands knows how valuable they are. Recreating on public land is part of being a Montanan, but public access to public lands is always under attack. 

Senate Bill 442 would have set aside funds from marijuana sales tax to fund public lands infrastructure like state trails and parks, wildlife management, habitat improvement, and maintenance of the county roads we need to travel to get to the places we love. 

Maintaining our access to public lands isn’t the only thing SB 442 set out to accomplish. Allocating funds to Veterans services and addressing the addiction crisis, to name a few, reflect the widespread benefits and incredible bipartisan collaboration that gave SB 442 so much support in the first place. Even though SB 442 was originally passed by a huge majority before it was vetoed by our governor, a fringe set of legislators caused the veto override to fall flat by painting SB 442 as a partisan, divisive issue. 

SB 442 was a win for all Montanans and Gov. Greg Gianforte’s veto of it flew in the face of what we wanted, what the Legislature overwhelmingly passed. We shouldn’t have been forced to wait for the next session to see the ideas of SB 442 brought to fruition. And as we march steadily toward the 2025 Legislature, I do hope another version of the bill sees the light of day. I hope this time, the will of the people will be followed.

Dawn Oehlerich