Wild places are the very essence of Montana

Dear Sen. Daines,

Each time I come to the defense of public lands, I feel an attack on our state by people that are tasked with doing what constituents explain time and time again that they want — PUBLIC LANDS access and respect for the last vestiges of wild places that are the very essence of our state.

We do not want legislation that releases 500,000 acres of Montana's Wilderness Study Areas as a ransom for protecting the Paradise Valley and Yellowstone from people that want to extract wealth, lock the public out and make our state a private playground for the wealthy. Wilderness Study Areas should be resolved through collaborative processes and not this top-down approach to managing our public lands.

Outdoor recreation generates $7.1 billion in consumer spending and supports 71,000 direct jobs in our state. It is essential to Montana’s economy, and essential to our way of life. When you take away the pristine parts of Montana, you destroy our economy, our clean water, our blue ribbon fishery, our wildlife, our landscapes, not to mention what you do to the legacy of Montanans and all the visitors that covet their time here.

Why do you want to undermine years of locally-driven, collaborative efforts? Montanans are working together to resolve their differences and chart a path forward.

Collaboratives are the best way to resolve the status of WSAs.

More than anyone, you should understand how much these places mean to Montanans. You must get mountains of correspondence telling you how much public lands mean to people, and how they want this legacy passed to their children. Take the time to read the passion of your constituents. Learn what the collaboratives are doing. Learn the facts about WSAs, and what experts have to say.

I myself cherish these places because they are my peace and comfort, my history and my granddaughters' future. Ansel Adams defined wilderness as “a mystique: a valid, intangible, non-materialistic experience.”

Be part of the solution and give these places the respect they deserve.

— Francis Galvin, Anaconda