About Montana Republicans’ public lands transfer effort

Here is current news and notes-

On Feb 9, there was a contentious first hearing on the bills by Senator Jennifer Fielder of Thompson Falls, a leader in the effort for Montana to gain ownership of the U. S. public lands. It was on SB 215 (see next paragraph). Contentious hearing on first of several federal land transfer bills proposed by GOP’s Sen. Jennifer Fielder. Helena Independent Record.

In response to their perception of public opinion, the Republican caucus in the state legislature is promoting three bills to meet public objections. “LC 1749 will prohibit the federal government from selling the public lands they currently control in Montana. SB 215 will prohibit the state from selling any public lands that are transferred from federal to state control in the future. [boldface mine] And LC 1557 will establish a bipartisan task force to analyze the feasibility of transferring certain federal public lands to state control.”

One of the key arguments for land transfer is that the federal government does not allow enough logging. The timber sales it offers have too many onerous rules and restrictions, and the state of Montana would make money on timbering if they were running the show.  However, there is this news reported in the Missioulian — defection from a key ally.  Montana Wood Products Association: Don’t transfer federal lands to state.

A majority of Montana residents do not want a land transfer, although Montanans support federal land ownership less than most other Western states. A multi-state survey shows 54 percent of Montanans support federal ownership and 37 percent favor state ownership. Poll finds Montanans believe federal lands belong to U.S., not state. Missoulian. Feb. 10.

On Feb. 16, an estimated 500 opponents of a public lands transfer to the state of Montana packed the state capitol in Helena. This rally included Montana’s governor, Democrat Steve Bullock and other officials in the executive branch of state government. See Public lands rally packs Capitol Rotunda; see video of Bullock’s speech. The Montana Standard. 

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Land lapse  Transfer movement raises fears over public access By Alex Sakariassen. Missoula Independent

A message from State Senator Jennifer Fielder. This is from the leading public proponent of the land transfer.



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  1. skyrim Avatar

    I failed the test about Buicks so I’ll never know. ;-(

  2. Nancy Avatar

    “Daines also addressed the issue of public lands, encouraging lawmakers to think of the opportunities if the federal government stepped back and allowed Montanans to responsibly manage forests and mine coal.

    He added *** Montanans must stand firm against efforts to sell public lands”



    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan

      I think what is going on is this.

      1. The Repubs will take the public lands if they can, but they know that most likely they won’t be able to.

      2. Repubs like Daines will move to strip the public lands from most environmental protections, supposedly to providing for “good” federal management and to save us from those who would sell the public lands.

      Either way, we are being scammed.

  3. monty Avatar

    To be a card carrying republican one must swear on a bible that their heart on soul is devoid of poetry and you will support taxing beautiful sunsets!

  4. Kyle Gardner Avatar
    Kyle Gardner

    Reading through Ms. Fielder’s statement, one gets the sense of the essence of this “debate.” We mostly see fact-free assertions, which give the whole issue the feel of a solution in search of a problem. This is nothing less than an effort to ultimately roll back all forms of environmental protection in order to facilitate “productivity,” a euphemism for more resource extraction. The pattern of hyperbole is essentially the same in every state where the transfer debate is underway.

    1. Carl Avatar

      They will try to do away with the NEPA process or at least weaken it.

  5. Cody Coyote Avatar
    Cody Coyote

    Can someone from Montana who’s following this ascertain how much of this is driven by or coupled to ALECS and / or the infamous American Lands Council ? The latter has a grwoing support base in most western states , with a lot of county governments contributing directly to ALC.

    ALEC—the American legislative Exchange Council — is a right wing national organization that writes boilerplate bills for conservatives in EVERY statehouse to try to drive thru their Legislatures. For instance, 38 of Wyoming’s 90 state reps are ALEC members.

    Taking back federal lands are on both organization’s manifest. So how is that really working out in Montana ?


    MEMO to Carl : the right wing / Wise Use/ Sagebrush Rebellion types are not really trying to get rid of all of NEPA. After being hammered by it for a couple decades, they finally learned the NEPA process runs in both directions, and they’ve been successful at subverting it where they can.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan