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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Montana Candidates Plan 'Roundtables' On Wilderness Study Areas

National Forest Wilderness Sign
Jason Crotty (CC-BY-2)
National Forest Wilderness Sign

Republican Congressman Greg Gianforte and his Democratic opponent Kathleen Williams are both hosting what they’re calling “roundtable discussions” about wilderness study areas Wednesday.

"We’re doing it because there really hasn’t been a public dialog," Williams says. "Because my opponent hasn’t done it, we’re going to do it."

Kathleen Williams announced her roundtable a week ago. Seven days later, Greg Gianforte announced his roundtable.

Gianforte’s critics fault him for not holding public hearings onbills he has proposed to release wilderness study areas in Montana to less restrictive multiple use management. The congressman has touted endorsement of the bills by county commissioners where some are located.

Gianforte’s roundtable is scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Fergus County Complex in Lewistown. A press release says a Fergus County Commissioner will attend, as will representatives of organizations that have criticized his proposed legislation, including Montana Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, and the Montana Wilderness Association. More conservative groups are on the list as well.

Candidate Kathleen Williams’ roundtable is booked for 10:30 a.m. at the University of Montana.

"A woman who’s done research on wilderness study areas is going to help us set the stage, and then a variety of perspectives, both motorized, non-motorized, different types of users, and then the public is invited. We have kind of a panel, and then we’ll open it up for questions and comments and people sharing their views."

Eric Whitney is NPR's Mountain West/Great Plains Bureau Chief, and was the former news director for Montana Public Radio.
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