Get in the Arena

Apparently, folks in DC and in state feel like there’s too much access for public land, hunters and anglers. Or perhaps they feel like public lands, like public hunting and fishing, is socialism, and should be doled out to the highest bidder. Representative Paul Ryan, the powerful chairman of the House Committee on the Budget, just pushed through a budget that refused to tackle over $40 billion in subsidies to the oil and gas industry, which continue to yield record profits. Now, we’re not against profits, or oil and gas development, but maybe we could get an amendment into the Ryan budget that would call for drug testing on all subsidy recipients, just like some folks want welfare recipients to submit to drug testing in order to buy food or keep a roof over their head. After all, what’s good for the goose should be good for the gander, right? 

Either way, hunters and anglers lose in this latest round of poorly thought out proposals to sell off your public land. 

In Montana during the last legislative session, hunters and anglers killed a bill that would have tried to force the feds to divest itself of all public lands that were not national parks or military instillations. Utah just passed a law similar to that. Colorado just had a bill introduced in their legislature that would do the same thing as the Utah bill.

Remember Richard Pombo? The Big Dick of California tried to ram a public land sale down the throats of America’s hunting public a few years ago…sportsmen and women stood up and fought back. 

The take away here for any politician who thinks that public lands are little blocks on a map and of no value (Remember Mitt Romney? He has no idea what public lands are for), is that they will face stiff opposition from the average hunter and angler who relies on public lands to hunt, fish and recreate. 

Public lands are often cited as vital for our economic engines in Montana. Surely our $2 billion plus outdoor economy would suffer if these urban congressmen get their way. Most assuredly, the livestock industry would suffer since they wouldn’t get grazing allotments at cut-rate prices (A producer pays $1.35 per AUM – that’s for a cow and a calf to graze for one month). These don’t even count the millions of bucks coming in for recreation from snowmobilers, hikers, skiers and others who rely on public lands not only for their recreation, but their jobs. 

Public lands are also where the vast majority of wildlife is harvested. FWP estimate that 70% of all animals harvested in Montana come from public lands. That’s your opportunity that is being put on the auction block so that more land can be locked up, developed and denuded of hunters and anglers. 

This is grossly disturbing. The fact that the majority of candidates for the presidency have such little connection with public lands, or with wild places at all, is shocking. Especially when we consider this is the 100th anniversary of Theodore Roosevelt’s “man in the arena” speech. 

TR fought like hell to make sure that the people of America would always have public lands to hunt, fish, and find jobs. To see so many back away from this truly democratic notion should have all of us up in arms. 

Fight back! Fight for your right to hunt and fish. Fight for your public lands!

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Hellgate Hunters and Anglers
Our Mission is to conserve Montana's wildlife, wild places, and fair-chase hunting and fishing heritage.