OPINION: Montana Land Board must do its job

By John Sullivan - June 15, 2018 - Originally published in the Billings Gazette. 

Montanans are paying close attention to decisions made by our elected leaders before we head to the polls this fall.

One such decision front of mind for the Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is the Horse Creek Conservation Easement. This easement would open 20,000 acres for hunting and recreating where it’s needed most — in eastern Montana. The proposal, funded with sportsmen’s dollars — not taxes — has not only garnered unanimous endorsements from the Montana FWP Commission and Gov. Steve Bullock, it enjoys widespread support from sportsmen and women, conservation groups and Montana voters. It's also the wishes of the landowner and within their rights as property owners.

Unfortunately, Matt Rosendale, along with Corey Stapleton and Elise Arntzen, voted to indefinitely table consideration of this unique opportunity. Rosendale stated: “During my service on Montana’s land board, I’ve shown that I will work to expand access to public lands for hunters, anglers and others who simply want to enjoy Montana’s great outdoors…” Well, Mr. Rosendale, which is it? Montanans don’t like double-speak. You can’t tell us you support conservation, public lands and expanding access for Montanans while voting against even considering one of the great conservation and public land opportunities in a generation.

Rosendale and the rest of the land board have a golden opportunity to prove to Montanans that they really do have our best interests in mind by first adding this to the agenda and then voting in favor of the Horse Creek Conservation Easement. Further delay is an affront to Montana’s sportsmen and women and the legacy of public access that Rosendale has publicly stated his commitment to.

The next land board meeting is June 18. Email the board now at [email protected]

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