(MISSOULA, Mont.) – U.S. Senator John Walsh today joined Montana anglers on the Clark Fork River in Missoula and spoke out against Congressman Steve Daines’ repeated attempts to sell off public lands and limit Montanans’ access to hunting, hiking and recreational grounds.
“Spending the morning on the Clark Fork, it’s easy to see why Montanans consider public lands access a right that we must protect,” said Walsh. “I’ve heard from anglers, hunters and business owners who rely on the outdoor economy, and they are all outraged by Congressman Daines’ continued attempts to privatize and develop open space. We won’t let that happen.”
Daines continues to push his lopsided “land grab” bill that ignores the interests of Montana hunters, hikers, anglers and outfitters to provide huge giveaways to out-of-state developers. He supported the top-down measure without any input from Montanans, according to reports:
“Hunting and fishing groups in Montana [have] issues with the forest bill passed by the U.S. House and co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Steve Daines. They also say they had no knowledge of the bill until after it was introduced.”[KPAX]
“We have to protect our prime hunting, fishing and recreational areas, and anyone who thinks it’s a good idea to sell them off doesn’t know Montana values,” said Casey Hackathorn, president of Hellgate Hunters and Anglers. “Senator Walsh is showing real leadership by working with the outdoor community to understand how to better secure public access for all.”
Daines has also voted twice to authorize the sale of public lands to pay Washington’s bills, and endorsed the Ryan Budget proposal that specifically cited legislation that included public lands sales in Montana. The measures would impact Montana’s outdoor economy, which experienced it’s most successful year in history with a record-breaking 11 million visitors who added $3.6 billion to the state economy – despite the negative impact of the federal shutdown that Dainesdemanded and then voted for.
“I never want to see our public lands and clean water jeopardized,” said long-time Montana outdoorsman and Missoula resident Tom France. “Congressman Daines hasn’t been in office very long, but he’s already voted twice to sell off our public lands. That’s why I appreciate Senator John Walsh’s pledge to always protect our clean water and air, and never let special interests come between Montanans and our lands.”
“We need representatives like John Walsh who will stand up in D.C. and fight to protect our clean air, clean water, and public land access – not one who is willing to sell them off to the highest bidder,” said Theresa Keaveny, executive director of Montana Conservation Voters.“Congressman Daines’ lack of concern for our public land and water access are among the reasons he’s scored an embarrassing 4 percent on the League of Conservation Voters’ scorecard. Walsh has shown he is committed to preserving our public lands, natural resources and outdoor heritage for future generations, which why we’ve endorsed him for the U.S. Senate.”
A poll by Colorado College found that 78 percent of Montanans oppose selling public lands to reduce the budget deficit. Two-thirds of those polled visit public lands six or more times every year – with as much as 38 percent visiting public lands 20 times each year.
In May, Walsh pledged to never authorize the sale of public lands.
Montanans Rejected Daines’ “Land Grab” and “Anti-Hunting” Bill. Sportsmen, conservation groups and other Montanans strongly rejected Daines’ made-in-Washington bill that did not include Montanan input:
“Truthfully it was a bill that [Daines] hadn’t come to any of us about and we have some real concerns about some of the substance of the bill.” [KPAX, 1/15/14]
“The bill was born in a Washington, D.C., lobbyist’s office. It’s a top-down land grab that fails the made-in-Montana sniff test.” [Missoulian, 12/02/13]
The clear-cutting that Daines is championing would take us backward to the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s.” [Bozeman Daily Chronicle, 2/17/14]
A Bozeman Sportsman called the bill “an all-encompassing, Washington-originated bill that would put thousands of acres of Montana backcountry at jeopardy.” [Bozeman Daily Chronicle,11/16/13]
In 2013 and 2014, Daines voted for the proposed budget by Rep. Paul Ryan, which proposes helping pay off the national debt by selling public lands. [H Con Res 25, Vote #88, 3/21/13; Billings Gazette, 4/10/14; LA Times, 4/1/14; Think Progress, 3/12/13]
In 2013, Daines voted for the Paul Ryan budget that endorsed the “Disposal of Excess Federal Lands Act of 2013” that directs the federal government to sell public lands in several states including Montana. [House Republican Budget FY 2014; H.R. 2627, 4/10/14]