Tester: Keep Montana’s public lands public

Senator holds Missoula roundtable to discuss economic impact of state’s public lands

(MISSOULA, Mont.) – Senator Jon Tester today held a Missoula roundtable to talk about the importance of Montana’s public lands on the state’s economy and outdoor recreation industry.

Tester brought together sportsmen, wildlife advocates and the business community to address recent efforts to turn all of Montana’s federal public land over to the state to manage. Montana has nearly 30 million acres of federal land which is estimated to cost $200 million to manage annually.

“Montanans pride ourselves on access to our most treasured places – it defines our way of life,” Tester said. “Make no mistake, Montanans manage our lands better than anyone, but our taxpayers simply cannot afford the cost of managing that many more acres in addition to what the state already manages.”

Tester was joined today by:

  • Smoke Elser – Outfitter
  • Dori Gilels – Mamalode
  • Casey Hackathorn – Hellgate Hunters & Anglers
  • Hayley Newman – National Wildlife Federation

“From the elk I ate for lunch to the bike ride I took last night, public lands have played an integral role in my life,” Hayley Newman said. “Top-down land management plans don’t take our forests’ need into account.”

Tester, an advocate for strengthening public land access, recently wrote an op-ed with Governor Steve Bullock stating their position that turning over all federal public land to the state for management would eventually lead to privatization and restricted access for hunters and anglers.

Tester is also pushing a bipartisan bill to streamline permitting for renewable energy projects on public land.