Sunday, April 10, 2016

It’s time to collaborate on land, wildlife issues (Montana candidates oppose land transfer)

by Lesley Robinson 

We, as ranchers, have a tremendous appreciation for wildlife, and we provide both habitat and water sources for that wildlife. From antelope to elk, to mule deer and whitetails, to upland game birds, we are blessed with a large array of game animals.

This is why our ranch is proud to take part in the Block Management program and open our land to hunters. With a good local game warden, Block Management is a great example of how landowners, hunters and state officials can work together for mutually beneficial outcomes regarding public access and land management.

Hunting and public access are part of Montana’s heritage and part of why we love this great state so much.

Greg Gianforte and I share these values.

In a recent interview with Hunt Talk Radio’s Randy Newberg, he said, “To be clear, I oppose any plan that would jeopardize keeping public lands public.”

This is an absolute. No one wants to see public land sold off. However, we have to be forward thinking and innovative when it comes to solving the current problems in our public land management.

When it comes to the transfer of federal public land to state ownership, we are opposed. However, we do think that there are ideas worth looking at that would involve greater local control over public land.

There is currently a proposed pilot project in the Kootenai National Forest that would have the federal government contract with Lincoln County for management of part of the forest. These are the kinds of innovative ideas that we should be looking at for solving land management issues. Under this proposal, the forest sees greater local management, yet very much remains public land.

Clearly, much of our public land is not well managed. Our forests suffer from beetle kill and we are subject to massive wildfires every summer.

Lesley Robinson is a fourth- generation Montana rancher, a Phillips County commissioner and a candidate for lieutenant governor of Montana.

What a cop out.

These lands can be transferred to the states with a guarantee the public will always have access for hunting and other forms of recreation.

How's that?  Its called a reverter clause.  You find these in federal land transfers all the time.  For instance see the disposal of federal lands under the Recreation and Public Purposes Act.  All of these contain a reverter clause which states if the lands no longer are serving the purposes for which it was transferred the lands then revert back to the federal government.

You would simply need language in the transfer legislation requiring they remain open for hunting  and recreation and that would be binding on the state or any subsequent owner.  Violations would result in the lands reverting to the feds.

So if public access is the only objection to the transfer of these lands, that is easily handled.  No need for half-assed pilot projects.  These namby-pamby politicians will have to find some other reason to oppose these transfers.

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