Greg Gianforte describes himself as a “strong proponent in more local decision making” on lands policy, but doesn’t believe the transfer of federal lands to the states is “attainable at this time.”
Whether you agree with him on the feasibility of a complete transfer or not, the Republican gubernatorial candidate represents a strong voice for local control in Montana, a state where Democrats and environmentalists have held sway for far too long.
Speaking to Ravalli Republic, Gianforte expressed his frustration with the federal mismanagement of western lands.
The state can certainly do a better job of managing federal lands. The federal government has not held up their end of the deal… here in Ravalli County, we burn our forests every summer, our timber sales have gotten tied up in litigation, we keep losing jobs in timber.
Gianforte referenced several ideas for more local control including “the transfer of federal employees to county employment,” but made clear that he was “not advocating for a specific proposal”; rather he was discussing “a conceptual idea of more local control so we can start to manage our forests.”
He was quite adamant, however, that logging and mining should have a place in Montana’s future along with hunting and other activities.
I think we all agree that if we manage our forests, we will have healthier forests, more wildlife, more hunting opportunities and less wildfires and more timber to our mills so we can have jobs for people. It’s a win, win, win, win, win scenario. We need to find a path forward for that to occur because we’ve been going in the wrong direction.
Recognizing that the problems facing landowners is not limited to federal overreach, Gianforte also condemned the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) and the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) saying, “FWP is at war with the landowners and the sportsmen” and “we can’t get a permit out of DEQ.”
It appears that Montana has a a chance of getting a decent Governor who understands and sympathizes with the problems facing ranchers, miners, loggers, and other property owners throughout the West. Too bad Idaho doesn’t have leadership like that.
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