Which Montana Senate Candidate Supports More Wilderness?

When U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., talks about his record, he often points to his forest jobs and wilderness bill as an example of what he’s trying to do: Fix things that are broken, by listening to Montanans.

“Did everybody get what they wanted?” he says. “No. But everybody who wanted their input in it was at the table.”

The 2009 bill, which has yet to pass, would create 660,000 acres of new wilderness in western Montana while dictating that 100,000 of acres of national forest be managed for logging, to help create timber jobs while preserving wild areas.

Yet Tester’s main re-election opponent, Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., has opposed the measure, saying its only guarantee is more wilderness, while giving no such assurance for logging in the forests.

“It doesn’t mandate (any logging),” Rehberg says. “He can say that, but it’s just not true. I’m trying to tell people who were part of the collaboration that they’re being sold a bill of goods here.” Continue reading

Prosperity and Sustainability Held Hostage in Montana

Why are the same people who get so exercised about out of state influence on Montana’s elections so uninterested in out of state influence on our livelihoods? Too many people who bemoan outside political spending seem to be just fine with out of state special interests and bureaucrats telling us how we can make a living, manage our lands and raise our families. Who’s watching over our right to pursue happiness and foster a legacy of opportunity for our kids and grandkids while special interests try to fence the state off as a playground for the rich and a petri dish for social and environmental special interests?

A rancher friend once told me he was going to live a pauper and die a millionaire.  Much like him, Montana is land rich and cash poor because we’re not allowed to responsibly use our lands and resources for our own benefit. Even as we sit on unimaginable wealth above and below our beautiful landscapes, we have the second lowest wages per job on the nation.[i] We’ve been cut off from our wealth by people who either don’t understand or don’t care about the human toll of pressing their values on Montana families. Continue reading

Northern Montana landowners close property to hunters, cite bison plan

When the big-game rifle season opens Saturday, hunters on some northern Montana lands may find themselves caught in a crossfire.

More than 70 landowners have published their names in ads in the Glasgow Courier and Malta’s Phillips County News over the past few months announcing that their lands would be closed to hunters until the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks drops its plans for releasing bison onto public lands. One ad also cited fire danger as a reason for closing land to hunting.

The reason behind the move is simple, according to one landowner.

“If the hunters don’t have anyplace to hunt, they won’t buy high-dollar licenses, and maybe some hotshot for fish and game will take a look at that and say, ‘Gol darn, our revenue went down. Maybe we should pay attention,’” said Rich Sudduth, a retired Hinsdale-area rancher whose name was listed in two of the ads. Continue reading

Farmers And Ranchers Close Land To Hunting; Fundraiser Planned To Support Lawsuit

Farmers and ranchers in Valley and Phillips counties, the grassy prairie that some envision as an American Serengeti for free-roaming bison, have turned their opposition to this plan back on Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks in a new way. To demonstrate that they do not accept FWP’s translocation of Yellowstone bison to northeast Montana, about 70 landowners have cut years-long ties with FWP’s game management programs and the hunter friends they have hosted on their land. Continue reading

Hill promotes hunting, fishing plan.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Hill promoted his hunting and fishing plan and criticized the state’s wildlife agency Wednesday with the head of the National Rifle Association at his side.

Hill appeared with NRA President David Keene in Great Falls before about a dozen people to field questions on fishing, hunting and public access to land.

The former congressman said he wants the state to take over management of threatened grizzly bears from the federal government and said that there is no room for free-roaming bison in the state. Continue reading

Page Whitham Sells 150,000 Acres, Will Operate Ranch Under Lease Agreement; Price Not Disclosed

The American Prairie Reserve, a Bozeman conservation organization, announced Tuesday that it has bought the 150,000-acre South Ranch in south Valley County from Page Whitham Land and Cattle, a move that has been rumored locally for months.

Page Whitham owner Steve Page confirmed the purchase Tuesday, and has written an explanation of his family’s action that appears on page A2.

Page takes a long view of the historical trend of the government’s land use decisions and determined that the time was right to sell that ranch.

“We have concluded that traditional ranching operations on public land in south Valley and south Phillips counties are in jeopardy of becoming history in the not so distant future,” Page said.

Page said the family plans to remain in Glasgow, operating the ranch under a 12-year lease-back agreement that can be renegotiated and extended at the end of the first lease. The purchase price of the ranch was not disclosed. Continue reading