The Glasgow Courier - Serving Proudly As The Voice Of Valley County Since 1913

By Matt Rosendale
Montana State Senator Dist 18 

The Check Is In The Mail

 


The Billings Gazette reported Wednesday that the Federal Government has decided to try and balance the budget by reducing payments to counties which contain Federal Lands. See “Montana counties take $20 million hit in spending bill” by Tom Lutey.

Areas of our state which once had thriving economies and strong communities have been decimated by the mismanagement of these lands and prohibition on the use of those natural resources. Just as disappointing is the failure of the Federal Government to fulfill the obligation to our rural schools and provide the funding that those districts would otherwise be able to generate themselves, IF they were able to tax those same lands and or manage them locally in a responsible manner. The Gazette reported in Lincoln County alone approximately $4 million a year could be lost due to the Secure Rural Schools program being left out of the spending bill.

This is part of the larger problem which leaves the local communities subject to the whim of the federal government and the special interests that seem to control the use of the land. Over the past twenty years the federal lands located within Montana have been underutilized and access has been dramatically reduced. Wildfires have compromised air quality and water quality. Wildlife and valuable habitat have been destroyed; some so severe it will be years before any vegetation or animals return. Private property has been damaged or completely lost. Businesses have closed down and vital infrastructure necessary to the timber industry has simply moved out.

It is time we have a discussion about who best can manage these lands. Montanans or Non-Resident Landowners 2,500 miles away.

Maybe the transfer of federal lands isn’t the answer, however if it is not, surely our citizens deserve a larger say in the fashion that these lands are managed.

 

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