Four days ago, Representative Gianforte proposed two bills that would leave 700,000 acres of public lands open to energy resource development, logging, and motorized travel. Not only is the initiative itself problematic, but the process has been troublesome and secretive. Rep. Gianforte did not hold any public meetings prior to introducing this new piece of legislation, and instead decided to operate in the dark of night and against the interests of those he is intended to serve. This move served to cut Montanans out from the decision-making process of managing our own public lands.
These two bills are focused on releasing 24 Wilderness Study Areas (WSA), which would leave them vulnerable to mining, oil and gas development, and logging. Six of these WSAs are located within the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument, these include: Antelope Creek (12,350 acres), Cow Creek (34,050 acres), Dog Creek (5,150 acres), Ervin Ridge (10,200 acres), Stafford (4,800 acres) and Woodhawk (8,100 acres). Antelope Creek and Cow Creek were both found to have acreage suitable for Wilderness protection.
The essential habitats of these WSA’s impact the entirety of our state’s population. Not only do these lands protect water, vital wildlife and bird habitat, and cultural and historic resources, Montana’s wildlands are the foundation of the $7 billion outdoor recreation economy.
Aside from the fact that Rep. Gianforte wrongly shut out the public process in building these bills, he has also failed to recognize and respect that one-third of the lands proposed to be released have been deemed suitable for wilderness designation by federal agencies.
Please take moment today and call Rep. Gianforte and let him know that you do not support these bills. Montanans have a right to be involved in the management of our public lands.
Don’t let Rep. Gianforte take away your choice. Let your voice be heard.