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Letter to the editor icon2

Letter to the editor icon2

Disappointed in Daines' private meeting

Senator Daines’ S. 2206 removes protections from Wilderness Study Areas comprising 450,000 acres of public land. Along with his high school classmate, Kerry White — state representative from Gallatin Gateway — they have been asking county commissions where WSA’s have boundaries to approve and endorse S.2206. Some commissions have complied, based on partisan politics, without a thoughtful, inclusive conversation.

We asked Daines to hold open, public, on the record meetings, in Montana, for Montanans to give their input on the language in S.2206.

The day before his arrival, we found out Daines was going to visit Philipsburg Wednesday. We wanted to let him know we want our voices heard. His calendar noted a public gathering at the Philipsburg Brewery. We were asked to leave the brewery, “this is a private meeting, not open to the public.” His aid Spenser Merwin told us “you wilderness people always cause problems” and we shouldn’t be using cameras and interfering. Daines' agenda next took him to Granite Sportland.

Granite Sportland allowed any member of the public to come in to their business. Senator Daines spoke to a number of people in attendance. Comments from snowmobile users included “we don’t want anything to change; we want it just the way it is.” Another said, “We want to be able to access all the land in the WSAs.” Someone asked us “where are you from?” implying our voice isn’t valid in Granite County. If you support S.2206, you can come from Gallatin County. These are federal public lands. WSAs belong to all citizens of the USA. Changing existing legislated protections threaten these fragile landscapes and the animals that retreat to them if their wilderness character is eliminated.

We have worked on ranches in Granite County and have friends and family there. We enjoy hunting, fishing, hiking, and camping. We own motor bikes, purchased from Granite Sportland. We believe there is a place for motorized use as well as the solitude of wilderness.

We are very disappointed Daines would not commit to meeting with the public, and feel we do not have a voice on this issue.

— William and Frances Galvin Clark, Anaconda

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