Public Land Rally Draws Hundreds To Montana Capitol

Jan 11, 2019

HELENA -- Hundreds of Montanans from across the state crowded into the Capitol Building rotunda on Friday to protest selling public land.

As Tim Pierce, with the UM Legislative News Service reports, the management of public lands was a hot topic during the last two legislative sessions with lawmakers debating several proposals for and against transferring management of federal lands to the state.

Opponents of land transfer, like democratic Governor Steve Bullock, say the state wouldn’t be able to afford maintenance of public lands, and would be forced to sell land to private owners.

“Anyone who wants a wholesale transfer of federal lands to the state, it ain’t gonna happen.”

Republican Representative Eric Moore from Miles City says while his party is currently working on legislation that would transfer management of federal lands to the state of Montana, the GOP platform is not about reducing access, but bringing land management back to Montana.

“We’re the ones who live here. Let’s transfer more authority to state government, local government.”

So far, there have been no bills formally introduced in the 2019 Legislature either for or against the transfer of public lands.

Tim Pierce is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.