Kicked out, Shut Down & Sold Out

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The Government is shutdown, Yellowstone and Glacier are closed for business, costing local businesses much needed revenue during the fall season. Archery hunters in the CMR have had to pick up and get out. Federal Fishing Access Sites along Fort Peck, the Bighorn River and Missouri are closed. Forest Service campgrounds sit empty as hunters pack up and move on. Nobody knows when it will end and it doesn’t look like congress has a plan to get us back to normal before pheasant opener on the 12th. The petty politics of Washington DC are throwing an unneeded monkey wrench into Montana’s hunting season.

But while everyone is focused on the Continuing Resolution or whatever manufactured crisis comes up next, the House Natural Resource Committee continues to push full steam ahead.

Yesterday, the committee had a hearing on the North Fork Protection Act from Montana’s own Congressman Steve Daines. The bill is widely hailed by the logging industry, mineral companies and the conservation community as a testament to people working together to find common sense solutions based on input from folks who live and play in the areas under consideration. It’s the product of years of hard work by a lot of good folks who want to ensure that the North Fork of the Flathead remains wild and brawling. We support that bill, and Congressman Daine’s actions to protect the North Fork.

At the same hearing, Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) got a hearing on his bill, HR 2657, Disposal of Excess Federal Lands Act of 2013 which would sell off about 3.3 million acres of public land in a huge swath of western states, Montana included. Chaffetz and others argue that this public land holds no value. Basing his bill off of an outdated 1997 survey of public lands, Chaffetz would eliminate some prime hunting ground, selling it off to the highest bidder. Cloaking his bill in the banner of “the children,”Chaffetz during his testimony said that there’s really no other way to raise revenue for schools. Apparently, Congressman Chaffetz doesn’t understand how local governments work.

There have always been short-sighted individuals who think of public land as a curse. These folks usually wrap themselves in the cloak of economic development and limited Government. The reality is this: Public Lands in the west are huge economic drivers and revenue generators. Eliminating 3.3 million acres of public land, an area the size of Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks combined, isn’t good governance, it’s poor economic planning. It’s also the top down, limited input type of legislation that always has significant problems with it in the off chance it actually gets implemented.

In a political world where most every move is scripted, thehighly dubious effort to hold a hearing on a controversial bill like this while the entire nation worries about how the shutdown will affect them shows to us that maybe the committee is in fact trying to slip this through unnoticed. Well, we noticed.

There hasn’t been a vote yet, and as Montana’s Congressman sits on the Committee, we’ll be keeping a keen eye on this bill to make sure the interests of public land hunters, anglers and the small businesses that rely on our revenue are taken in to account.

If you want to contact Congressman Daines and thank him for his work on the North Fork Protection Act and ask him to oppose HR 2567, you can contact him here:http://daines.house.gov/contact/

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published this page in Blog Archive 2013-11-13 10:33:12 -0700
Hellgate Hunters and Anglers
Our Mission is to conserve Montana's wildlife, wild places, and fair-chase hunting and fishing heritage.