A crowd of over 1,000 public lands advocates packed Montana’s State Capitol Monday afternoon to denounce public land transfer.
The action, taking place on the main rotunda floor and overhead balconies, attracted supporters from across Montana and all walks of life. Despite being viewed as strictly an infringement on the access rights of hunters and anglers, many demonstrators were quick to remind everyone that the transfer of federal lands will prove to be something that will affect each and every one of us.
In addition to hunting and fishing, public lands in Montana and across the United States offer outdoor recreation opportunities for all those that enjoy the outdoors. Hikers, skiers, mountain climbers, campers and many others are direct beneficiaries of these cherished swaths of lands.
America’s public lands comprise of over 630 million acres and account for a greater landmass than all of Texas, California, Florida and New York combined.
Sign-carrying attendees raucously voiced their opposition to the proposed transfer of federal lands to the state level, fearing that cash-strapped states will be unable to manage the lands on their own.
In addition to residents and key members of the state’s hunting and fishing industry, Montana Governor Steve Bullock grabbed the podium and expressed his passion for federal lands upon the crowd.
“It’s time that we recognize access to our public lands should be promoted, not threatened,” Bullock said. “It’s time we send a message to that floor of the building,” gesturing to the House and Senate chambers, “that proposals to transfer our public lands or study the transfer of public lands have no place in this building and no place in Montana.”
The rally, taking place fittingly within a week of Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz’s (R-UT) introduction of a pair of bills (H.R. 621 and H.R. 622) that aim to both sell Federal lands and “terminate the law enforcement functions of the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management.”
It’s time to get rid of the BLM and US Forest Service police | U.S. House of Representatives https://t.co/isHBrRmDJD— Jason Chaffetz (@jasoninthehouse) January 25, 2017
Collectively, the bills detail plans to both shrink the BLM budget by five percent, the Forest Service budget by seven percent, and dispose of 3.3 million acres of land, that as stated on his website,“ have been deemed to serve no purpose for taxpayers.” The land slated for disposal includes plots in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming.
Sportsmen and women, along with anyone who enjoys all that America’s public lands have to offer are urged to call their U.S. congressional representatives and urge them to oppose both H.R. 621 and H.R. 622 today.
Contact your House Representative HERE: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/
Contact your Senate Representative HERE: https://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/
Additionally, we urge you to get behind organizations such as Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (BHA) as well as the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP) who both battle on the daily for our protection, enhancement, and protection of federally managed public lands.
You can make donations freely to the TRCP at any time and membership to BHA will only run you $25/year. Join the fight today.
Featured Image: Land Tawney (Twitter)