Montana was fortunate to have a leader like Tracy Stone-Manning in its ranks, and the country would be better off for her conservation and public land advocacy experience. We need someone intimately familiar with building the coalitions required for public land, and Tracy devoted her life to developing those relationships – first as Executive Director of the Clark Fork Coalition, then later as Director of the Montana Department of Environmental Quality and as a consultant to the National Wildlife Federation.
Outdoor recreation in Montana requires that we familiarize ourselves with the Bureau of Land Management maps as well as our home route and what the weather has in store for us that day. For this reason, it has not escaped many of us that the BLM has been without permanent management for over four years. We have watched with concern how protected areas across the country have been unceremoniously stripped of their designation and offered for lease at low cost. It is a fate that fundamentally contradicts the feeling that most Montans are responsible for the mountains that we climb and the fields that we cultivate. With more than 8 million acres in Montana overseen by the BLM, it was a failure of our leadership in Washington, DC that the issue was not given more attention.
The current candidate to lead the department offers the opportunity to correct this disinterest and rebuild the BLM after years of neglect.
While most Republicans in Congress were content to rely on partisanship and push the candidate on inflated charges, I encourage Senator Steve Daines to follow his peers down the aisle and vote for what Montans do most want to see – one of our own of working to preserve America’s outdoor heritage and open spaces.