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MT Op Ed Viewpoint Transferring Public Lands to the State Will Help Protect Them

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Vie wp wpoint: Tr a ns nsf e rr rr ing public la nd nds to the sta te te will he lp lp pr ote ct ct the m

 Viewpoint: Transferri Transfe rring ng public lands to the state will help protect them JANUARY 01, 2014 6:57 PM • BY ROBERT ROBERT SMAUS SMAU S

For the the last la st three decades, federal federal policies have continually red reduced uced public public access, killed our state and local economies, and brought national forests into a state of maximum combustion. That’s not good good for our environment or the way of life li fe we Montanans Montana ns love. It was just a few months ago a go when the federal government governme nt decided our nation’s public public lands were “non-essential”? During the shutdown, federal agents went out of their way to barricade national parks and monuments, halt wildfire fuel reduction projects, and prohibit concessionaires from selli ng the USFS’s USFS’s mushroom mushroom and firewoo fi rewood d permits permits to local loca l citizens. c itizens. They even ordered hikers and hunters to leave unsupervised wilderness areas – all because Washington, D.C. got in a tussle over Obamacare! I know full well that Friends of the Bitterroot, Bitterrooters Bitterrooters for Planning, et al, al , have an agenda to push. Centralized planning and obstructionist management practices keeping sportsmen sport smen out of the forests and a nd taking game and loggers from harvesting harvesti ng timber is their thei r desire. The question is simple, si mple, who in their right mind mi nd would want a bankrupt, bankrupt, dysfuncti dysfunctional onal Washington, D.C. bureaucracy to continue wrongfully holding title to Montana’s public lands and resources? What is i s there to stop D.C. D.C. from auctioning auctioni ng off Montana’s public lands la nds and resources to satisfy the national debt to China? Think about that. Our Our public public lands in the hands ha nds of China – the world’ world’s s biggest polluters! They are about to construct construct a canal connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, much like the Panama Canal. Ca nal. However, this this canal ca nal will be through through Nicaragua, and will traverse and destroy protected and highly sensitive rainforest habitat. This is serious business folks. If we really reall y want to protect protect our our public public lan la nds, we need to get them transferred transfe rred from the federal government to the state as a s soon as possible so D.C. D.C. can’t mortgage away our children’s chi ldren’s future futur e any more than they already have. I know there are some good people working for the Forest Service. But unli ke our federal partners, pa rtners, Montana balances balanc es a bud budget get every year and manages millions mi llions of acres a cres of state public pu blic lands responsibly and a nd profitably, while protecting the environment, minimizing fire hazards, ha zards, and both both allowin all owing g and encouraging multiple use recreation. Our state is far more efficient at preventing and extinguishing wildfires too. Governor Bullock knows this and has publicly stated that Montana does a far better management job than Washington, D.C. Sadly, the federal government can’t live within their means, or even put together successful timber sales without being shut down time and time again. As a result, the increasingly intense wildfires on federally managed la nds are decimating our wildlife wildlife by the millions, milli ons, poisoning our air and water, and endangering endangering our communi ties.  As Utah Rep. Ivory repeated over and over in his presenta presentation, tion, under under the Transfer of Lands htt http:/ p://raval ravalllirepub republlic.com c.com/news/ news/op opiinion nion//viewp viewpoi oint nt//arti article_ cle_3f 3fc7b c7b2a6 2a6-7 -735 3511-11 11e3e3-b7 b7fb fb-0 -001 01a4b a4bcf8 cf887 87a.h a.httml?pri ?print=t nt=tru rue& e&ci cid= d=pr priint

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Vie wpoint: Tra nsfe rring public la nds to the sta te will he lp prote ct the m

 Act, federally held public lands would simply become state public lands, managed for sustained yield and multiple use, but with the distinct advantage of l ocal planning and public input. Montanans would decide how to protect and utilize our public lands, not Washington, D.C. or the big city folks from other states. What rational person could be against that? It is time for Montana to take rightful ownership of the public l ands within our state, as was promised by Congress at statehood. I would like to thank Utah Rep. Ken Ivory for so eloquently enlightening us about this lawful option, and ask others to give this careful consideration before jumping to unfavorable conclusions espoused by the self-proclaimed champions of a notoriously dysfunctional federal government. Robert Smaus Hamilton

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