Tester, others says transferring federal lands would burden Montana
U.S. Sen. Jon Tester and a panel of advocates argued against proposals to transfer federal lands to state or private ownership during a Missoula visit on Tuesday.
“For some, that might sound good on the surface,” said Tester, D-Mont. said. “Montanans know how to manage the land. But the state Legislature also has to have a balanced budget. And there’s no way we could absorb our share of the $200 million the federal government now pays. The only way to keep the state budget whole would be to sell off those public lands.”
National Wildlife Federation representative Hayley Newman cited a 2014 Colorado College survey finding that 95 percent of western U.S. residents had visited public lands at least once in the past year.
“I guarantee those people took away lifelong memories,” Newman said. “There are all these green blots on the map, and in my experience I’ve come to realize how different and unique each of these forests is. Top-down national forest plans don’t account for what’s going on and needed on the ground.”
Tester clarified the difference he saw between local input and local ownership.