As reported earlier, County Commissioner Suzy Foss has arranged for a visit by Utah State representative and American Lands Council CEO Ken Ivory to promote the takeover of federal lands. This visit has prompted a local group of concerned citizens to offer the public an opportunity to hear a different side of the story.
Kelsey Milner, a spokesperson for Bitterrooters for Planning, said that while bringing federal public land under local control is a favorite philosophical dream of anti-government groups, it is considered by most to be illegal, unconstitutional, anti-American, and will likely go nowhere.
Nonetheless, said Milner, some members of the Ravalli County Board of Commissioners are seriously backing this move – spending their time and public money selling the idea to Bitterrooters.
“It is important that we nip this in the bud,” Milner said, “before anyone is taken in by the snake oil being sold by the American Lands Council.”
Milner’s group has scheduled Dr. Martin Nie, Professor of Natural Resource Policy at the College of Forestry and Conservation at UM, for a public informational lecture on such “takeover” movements on Monday, December 9 at 6:30 p.m. in the Hamilton Community Center located (Bedford Building), 225 S. 2nd Street. The title of Professor Nie’s talk is, “The West Against Itself – Again.”
“We want county residents to have the complete story,” Milner said. “We urge everyone with an interest in this issue to attend Professor Nie’s presentation.”
Nie has published extensively on issues pertaining to adaptive management, federal lands planning, protected lands, and various reform proposals and initiatives in National Forest law and management. The importance of his work was recognized by the Montana Legislature’s Environmental Quality Council in 2013 when he provided testimony for Joint Resolution No. 15, calling for the study of public land management in Montana. His latest book is “The Governance of Western Public Lands: Mapping Its Present and Future” (University Press of Kansas, 2008).
Also on December 9th, at 11 a.m. in the commissioners’ conference room, a group of valley citizens will ask the Commissioners to adopt a resolution that recognizes the value of federal public land to Ravalli County and to all Americans, and that reaffirms the County’s continued commitment to federal management of that land. Bitterrooters for Planning supports this resolution and urges a strong public showing of support.
“Our hope is that the majority of commissioners will stand up and clearly support one of our most cherished American rights and ideals,” Milner said.
Bitterrooters for Planning is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, established in 1996. Its mission is to promote comprehensive land-use planning in the Bitterroot valley.