As a hunter, angler and public land owner, I strongly oppose Sen. Daines’ Protect Public Use of Public Lands Act and Rep. Gianforte's companion bill Protect Public Use of Public Lands Act and the Unlocking Public Lands Act. Daines' proposal would put nearly a half-million acres of wilderness study areas in Montana at risk of development and exploitation, while Gianforte's plan would raise that number to nearly 700,000 acres.
WSAs provide crucial habitat security for a variety of big and small game species alike; moreover, sportsmen and women across North America rely on WSAs to hunt, fish and experience the solitude, challenge and adventure found on these prime public lands and waters.
Montana’s wilderness study areas were identified 40 years ago as special, wild places deserving careful management. Though I agree that many WSAs are overdue for action – and am not opposed to revisiting and finalizing management plans – forcing a top-down and broad-brush approach to administering lands that vary greatly in habitat, ecosystems and recreational offerings is irresponsible.
I urge Sen. Daines and Rep. Gianforte to abandon their legislation and instead start any review of future management of Montana’s WSAs with local, thoughtful and diverse discussions involving various stakeholders.