Helena – For more than 50 years, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has protected national parks and open spaces, including many in Montana. But future protection of these public lands will be in jeopardy, as the LWCF expires in about 100 days.
The Administration has proposed gutting the LWCF, funding it at only an $8 million level. Sen. Jon Tester pushed back, and advanced legislation earlier this month that would include a $425 million investment into the fund, which increases public access to public lands.
So does wealthy East Coast developer Matt Rosendale stand with Montana, or with his Washington buddies looking to decimate the Fund? Rosendale has so far been silent on the matter but if his record is any indication, it doesn’t seem likely that he’s in favor of it.
Rosendale introduced legislation to transfer management of some federal public lands to the state and restrict future federal land acquisitions in Montana. According to a cosponsor of the bill, it could have led to the transfer of “any or all lands” owned by the federal government—potentially even national parks.
Rosendale’s bill was opposed by the Montana Wildlife Federation in part because it would prohibit federal land purchases like the LWCF-funded Tenderfoot Creek Acquisition. The group pointed out that “as opportunities on private land diminish, the hunters and anglers of the state of Montana are more dependent upon the public lands for their recreational purposes.”
This bill is only one example of Rosendale’s many anti-public lands policies—he torpedoed the Keogh Ranch Conservation Easement that would’ve protected around 8,000 acres of hunting land from potential subdivision; he voted to create a task force criticized for being a “backdoor” to talks of public lands transfer; he has repeatedly voted on the Land Board against Montana sportsmen and women, blocking permanent public hunting access to 20,000 acres of land in Eastern Montana; he endorsed transferring federal public lands to the state as “a top priority”; and he supports a bill that the vast majority of Montanans oppose because it would eliminate protections for more than half a million acres of our public lands.
As a developer, it must be appealing to Rosendale to transfer public lands and pass measures that could make it easier to sell off our public lands, but those aren’t Montana values and Montanans have made it clear that’s not what they want.
So, does Rosendale support fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund to help protect our public lands?
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