Thursday, July 08, 2010

Give most federal lands to Montana DNRC

If elected in November, state senate candidate Patty Lovaas said she will seek to transfer management of most federal lands in Montana to the state. In fact, if she hadn't gotten so deeply involved with property tax issues, Montanans might have decided the issue themselves. Patty introduced an amendment to the Montana Constitution last July invoking state sovereignty rights so that most public lands would be managed by local communities and state agencies. "This absolutely has to happen, for the health of our state, for the health of our people, and for the health of our economy," she said. "It would be better to transfer these public lands to local control. There is a code in the Federal Regulations that allows for local control of the public lands. It is absolutely a viable option." The constitutional amendment would not apply to national parks and wilderness areas. She was forced to postpone the public lands effort when she started fighting property tax reassessments, but promises that public lands will be atop her legislative agenda. "That's what needs to happen, because the U.S. Forest Service and the BLM never get anything accomplished, due to political bureaucracy," she said. Patty made the remarks in response to a query from the Chronicle, asking community leaders how to increase local decision-making in the federally-managed forest lands. Patty said she has been deeply involved with the issue for the past 10 years in Beaverhead County, which is about 60 percent public land...more

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