A situation in the Crazy Mountains, near Big Timber, has existed for some time and now has become serious. Landowners are attempting to close access to both ends of thousands of acres of Forest Service land that has had legal established public access across private land for many years.

Coincidentally, this Forest Service land, which is public property, has abundant wildlife which is also public property. Some area landowners and area outfitters want to lock this area up for themselves while keeping the public out.

Incredibly, a Forest Service district ranger, Alex Sienkiewicz has been reassigned to another position because he was protecting the public interests according to the law. This smells of politics and there are politicians involved in this dispute. Why would politicians want to become involved in a dispute between landowners, outfitters and the Forest Service?

First, they were invited by some of the combatants in the dispute in order to strengthen their cause.

Second, let us not be stupid. What is driving this situation is not private property rights. It is pure greed. By locking up that public land they are trying to steal public property. It is very cheap if stolen. No money to borrow, no taxes to pay, no maintenance costs.

Politicians are involved because the wealthy have been trying to steal property from the public (that is you and me) for years. According to Merriam-Webster, “a thief is one that steals.” So, by definition, are those trying to block the public out of their own land, thieves?

According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, “Current administrative officials have made it clear that they favor extractive industries and the privileged few rather than the public in general.”

So where did these administrative officials and congressmen come from? Regrettably, we elected some of them. Others are a result of Washington’s “draining of the swamp” so to speak. The problem is that the swamp has been refilled. It does not smell good. In fact it is now a cesspool and what has floated to the top? Administrative officials and congressmen who want to steal public land.

If Montanans do not become involved, we may lose our wildlife, public lands and rivers to the privileged few. Contact your congressmen. Tell them that Public Property Rights are equal to Private Property Rights. Tell them we want Montana to always be The Last Best Place for Montanans.

-- Harold Johns, Butte

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