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By A. Lee Boman
Seeley Lake, Mont. 

Conflict or Collaboration over Public Lands?

 


Most Montanans have their favorite outdoor places. It might be a trout stream, a view from a mountaintop or a mountain bike loop. Wherever your favorite places are, chances are they are on Montana’s public lands.

Management of our public lands is a hot topic. Some radicals want to control public lands unlawfully using guns. The American Land Council led by their new CEO, Montana state Sen. Jennifer Fielder, wants to take control of our public lands through legislation. Both efforts ignore the fact that the majority of Montanans treasure public lands and want to keep them in public hands. They also disregard the fact that public lands drive our quality of life and provide a giant boost to our economy.

There is an alternative to conflict and controversy regarding public lands. That alternative is the Montana tradition of working together. Two current examples of Montanans working together to best accommodate everyone are the Kootenai Forest Stakeholders Coalition and the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Project. In both cases mountain bikers, timber representatives, outfitters, hikers, snowmobilers, ranchers, government agencies and other interested parties have come together to find the most productive path for all. These two success stories have not generated the press that taking over the Malheur Wildlife Refuge [in Oregon] has but they helped ensure Montana won’t lose the outdoor places and activities we love.

Which is the better way to ensure long-term prosperity for Montana, conflict or collaboration? If you think the working together model is the best way to sustain our Montana lifestyle, vote for candidates that respect Montana priorities and prefer collaboration over conflict.

 

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