Wednesday, January 25, 2017

These Lands Are OUR Lands: Let's Keep It That Way!

On Tuesday night, January 24, 2017, several hundred people gathered at the Radisson Colonial Hotel in  Helena, Montana, to learn about the recently-released draft Forest management plan revisions for the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest. This was the second of nine public hearings being held throughout western Montana during which we citizens -- local citizens -- could participate in and influence the future management of OUR public lands.

Contrary to what those who want to sell and transfer OUR public lands claim, there were no bureaucrats from Washington D.C. there, who know nothing about the land, dictating how the forest will be managed. However, there were local Forest Service wildlife biologists, foresters, engineers, fisheries biologists, timber specialists and other experts there, folks who live here, who are our friends and neighbors, who know and study the land, all there to share their knowledge and recommendations based on good science.

There were no "out-of-state environmental extremists" there, as opponents of public lands would have you believe, "forcing their agendas" upon us poor local folk. However, there were a diversity of local Montanans from all walks of life -- hunters, anglers, hikers, backpackers, mountain bikers, snowmobilers, off-road vehicle enthusiasts, bird watchers, photographers, loggers, ranchers, miners, business owners, community leaders and others -- sharing their views and opinions on how they'd like to see OUR public land managed.

We don't all always agree. Some of us locals would like to see less logging, less motorized use and more wilderness. On the other hand, some of us locals would like to see more logging, more motorized use and less wilderness.

The professionals who work for the Forest Service listen, consider all views and opinions, and strive to strike a balance that protects fish and wildlife while meeting their multiple-use mandate, supporting local communities, and meeting the needs and desires of local citizens and all we Americans who own OUR public land.

Compromise is key. Not everybody gets everything they want. That displeases some folks in the extractive industries -- who would like to see all of OUR land open to unsustainable logging, grazing and mining regardless of its impacts to fish, wildlife and recreation -- people who put greed and profit above all else.

So they make up lies. They tell people that all decisions regarding the management of OUR public lands are dictated by bureaucrats in D.C., and "out-of-state environmental extremists," so they can rally people to support misguided efforts to transfer and sell OUR public lands.

Ironically, most of the people leading the attack on our public lands are out-of-state representatives of extractive industries and their corporate lobbyists in D.C. They want OUR public land, and they perpetuate and disseminate lies, myths and misconceptions in their fear-mongering, deceptive efforts to take away what belongs to all of us.

They want to steal OUR public lands.

We won't let them have it. These lands are OUR lands, and we all have a say in how they're managed. Don't let greed and profit consume OUR lands. Get involved; keep it public.

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