Land Grab: Something to ask our Commissioners about!

I recently received a copy of a letter apparently being sent to county commissions throughout the West urging them to join the movement to transfer federally managed land to the states.  I do not know if our commissioners have received this letter yet, but I encourage you to ask them for comment. I plan on attending a commissioners meeting next week and asking for comment during the “items not on the agenda”.

Here’s the letter: 



As you prepare your next year’s county budget, I want to remind you of the Transfer of Public Lands to state ownership movement that started in the Utah State Legislature in 2012 with HB 148. Shortly after the bill was signed by Governor Herbert, American Lands Council (ALC) was organized by some County Commissioners to move this idea forward.

ALC has worked hard this year and made a lot of progress in the effort of transferring public lands to the states. We has been instrumental in getting legislation passed in five states in 2013 that calls for an economic study or a feasibility study of some type to evaluate this process. Those states are Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Utah. We are working to promote similar legislation in the other Western States, and are making progress.

Ken Ivory has been on the road to about every Western State almost constantly educating state legislators, commissioners, civic groups and general citizens. If we make this happen it will take several states to move it forward. It takes money to accomplish all that needs to be done. Counties have played a major role in that process.

There are three membership levels in ALC. The Bronze level for $1,000, Silver for $5,000 and Gold for $25,000. We are asking your County to consider joining as a Silver Member if at all possible.

I’m sure you are wondering what the money will be used for. Let me list a few things ALC is trying to accomplish in 2014.

Mission: Compel Congress to honor the same statehood promise to western states to transfer title to our public lands and abundant resources, because this is the only solution big enough to (1) fund education, (2) better care for our lands and forests, (3) protect access, (4) create jobs, and (5) grow local, state, and national economies and tax base.

Vision: Knowledge and Courage are the Keys to the Transfer of Public Lands.

Strategic Objectives:

1. Re-tool ALC Website – Make it User-friendly and focus on “What Can I Do?”

Est. Cost: $25K development, $15K promotion

2. The Campaign Project Leverage Tens of Thousands into Tens of Millions in Education Value equipping 2014 candidates (Congressional, State & County) (Top Down) and individuals and groups (Bottom Up) with materials and resources to build broad based Knowledge and Courage to compel Congress to honor its promise to us and our children to transfer title to the public lands and the only solution big enough.

Est. Cost $100K – Message Development-Polling $25K, Materials Development $25K, Distribution $50K

- Top Down (Candidate Training and Materials) Campaign messaging/talking points with sources and materials; Website materials with links; Training and support

- Bottom Up “Job Interview” Questions and Support Materials for Individuals, Organizations and Grassroots Groups, to use in hiring representatives with the Knowledge and Courage to compel the transfer of our public lands.

3. Train the Trainers – Train the Trainers, State Committees, County Committees,

Est. Cost Materials $80K – $25K, Training meetings $5k per state (11 States), $55K

Develop training manuals and multimedia materials to train trainers in each state and county leading to the development of State and County TPL committees.


4. Educate DC – Knowledge and Courage

Est. Cost $??

Prepare and rally representatives and people to a Draft Bill.

Congressional hearings on the Transfer of Public Lands – Knowledge and Courage

Educate Members and Staff Lobbyists, Federalist Society, Heritage Foundation, and others to educate members of Congress/staff about the Only Solution Big Enough

Descend on DC – Conference of state legislators, leaders, county commissioners and others in DC with materials and tools to educate members of Congress and staff.

5. Build the Legal Dream Team

Est. Cost $ (??)

Develop a team attorneys and law firms around the West to research, write, and educate the legal community that Congress is duty-bound to honor the same promise to wiling western states. Develop a rapid response team educate attorneys to assert and defend rights to keep National Parks open and other interim federal intrusions and foster the debate throughout the legal community that transferring the public lands is legal and constitutional and the only solution big enough.


Then there is the plain old office expenses that take a significant chunk of the budget.


As you can see we have a lot of opportunity to make a difference. All it takes is the money to accomplish it. I am reminded of a quote I heard, “IF NOT NOW, WHEN? IF NOT ME, WHO?”

I would like to invite you to go to the web site

If I can answer any questions please call me. 435-634-5700 office or 435-673-9312 cell

Thanks for your support



Alan Gardner

Commissioner, Washington Co. Utah

Membership Committee Chairman




Citizens Outraged over Attack on Our Public Land

As reported in the Bitterroot Star and the Republic, commissioner Suzy Foss has arranged for Ken Ivory (a Utah state representative and CEO of the American Lands Council) to speak to elected officials and selected business people about how to get federal land (your birthright) transferred to state and local control.

A group of concerned citizens has put together some counter activities to inform the general public on this sneak attack on our rights and to counter the half-truths and mis-information spread by the American Lands Council and Mr. Ivory.

First, at 11:00 am this coming Monday (December 9th) morning, our group will present a citizens’ resolution of support for our federal public lands to our commissioners and ask them to adopt the resolution. Should be good theater! We need to pack the house.

Second,  in order to provide a more “fact-based” treatment of such “land grab” efforts, Bitterrooters for Planning is bringing in Professor Martin Nie, from the College of Forestry and Conservation at UM, to give a free, public lecture  on these Sagebrush Rebellion style movements. His lecture is Monday, December 9th, at 6:30 pm in the Community Center in City Hall (Bedford Bldg.) at 225 south 2nd street. Dr. Nie has published extensively on the topic and recently provided expert testimony to the Montana Legislature on the matter.

Third, Mr. Ivory is scheduled to make a public presentation on how local governments can take over federal public lands on Wednesday, December 11 at 6:30 pm in the Eagles Lodge on 2nd street. We need a strong turnout to show Mr Ivory and his ilk that Ravalli County citizens do not appreciate such anti-American activities designed to take away our rights. American flags will be available for waving.

It is easy to say this is just another Sagebrush Rebellion type movement that will fade away like all the others. But we cannot take that chance – these people are well funded (Koch Brothers) and are not going away. And we need to express to our commissioners in no uncertain terms that this land-grab effort cannot not stand.

Ravalli County Commissioners move forward on Public Land Grab

Here is a fact sheet produced by a group of concerned citizens with information on our county commissioners’ efforts to gain control of our American public lands! Please read and add your outrage to this travesty. Tell your commissioners that you are opposed to such “county supremacy” ideas and that you strongly object to proceeding down this road! Also, here is a Citizens’ Resolution, composed by the same group, that will be considered by the BOCC at a commissioners meeting in early December. It reaffirms Ravalli County’s support of our public lands.



AMERICAN PUBLIC LANDS in AMERICAN PUBLIC HANDS Citizens’ Response to Raid on American Public Land Ravalli County Commissioner Suzy Foss has announced a public meeting for December 11, 2013, 6:30 PM at the Eagles, 125 N. 2nd Hamilton, MT. The purpose is to hear from a speaker, Mr. Ken Ivory of the American Lands Council ( and a state representative from Utah, to discuss “the regional movement to transfer our public lands…as contracted in our states Enabling Act…to state and local management”. Many citizens see this as an unpatriotic move toward privatization of our NATIONAL public lands, which are the birthright of every American from ‘sea to shining sea’.

This Tea Party privateers’ sneak attack on our American public land is another attempt at the old, discredited Sagebrush Rebellion. (Definition: “Failed movement led by conservative Western politicians to cede federal control of western land to individual states, promoting private ownership and commercial development.” One might think Ravalli County Commissioners would have their hands full doing the work they were elected to do, especially with the turmoil they have riled in the Road and Bridge Department, Treasurer’s Office, Health Clinic, etc. However, they seem to have spare time to spend on issues entirely beyond their jurisdiction.

The language of the Enabling Act is clear: MONTANA STATE ENABLING ACT (Approved February 22, 1889.) [25 U.S. Statutes at Large, c 180 p 676.] “AN ACT to provide for the division of Dakota into two States and to enable the people of North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Washington to form constitutions and State governments and to be admitted into the Union on an equal footing with the original States, and to make donations of public lands to such States.”….“Second. That the people inhabiting said proposed States do agree and declare that they forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within the boundaries thereof, and to all lands lying within said limits owned or held by any Indian or Indian tribes; and that until the title thereto shall have been extinguished by the United States, the same shall be and remain subject to the disposition of the United States,…” A few self-serving people seem to have forgotten about America’s original rebellion against exclusion from a wealthy King’s private hunting preserve.

However outrageous and un-winnable this effort to disenfranchise citizens across our nation may seem, it is time for those who value our NATIONAL birthright to stand up and fight for it as those who came before us have done.

The love most Americans have for their public land is not based on short-term economics. However, it may be interesting to note some economic facts: *Western non-metropolitan counties with protected federal lands had faster employment growth and higher per capita income. Counties that had more than 30 percent of the county’s land base in federal protected status increased jobs by 345 percent over the last 40 years. By comparison, similar counties with no protected federal public lands increased employment by 83 percent. (Rasker, R., P.H. Gude, M. Delorey. 2013. In Review. The Effect of Protected Federal Lands on Economic Prosperity in the Non-Metropolitan West.Journal of Regional Analysis and Policy) *

Outdoor recreation is important to western economies. Nationally, OIF estimates an economic impact of $646 billion from active outdoor recreation (bicycling, camping, fishing, hunting, paddling, snow sports, wildlife viewing, and trail-running, hiking, climbing), supporting 6.1 million jobs. (Outdoor Industry Foundation, The Active Outdoor Recreation Economy: A $730 Billion Annual Contribution to the U.S. Economy, 2006). *Protected natural amenities—such as pristine scenery and wildlife—help sustain property values and attract new investment (The Role of Amenities and Quality of Life in Rural Economic Growth. American Journal of Agricultural Economics 83(2): 352-365.Deller and Tsai 2001)

What you can do: attend the 12/11/13 meeting and bring friends, write letters to the editor, contact the Commissioners, attend Commissioner meetings, vote your values, speak up, sing out, stand up and be counted.

Bitterroot Star:; PO Box 8, Stevensville, MT, 59870

Ravalli Republic: 232 Main St., Hamilton, MT 59840

Missoulian:; 500 S. Higgins, Missoula,

MT Ravalli County Commissioners:; (406-375-6500), 215 S. 4th, Hamilton, MT, 59840






Citizen’s Resolution in support of Public Lands

WHEREAS, the Enabling Act of Feb. 22, 1889 enabling the people of Montana, Washington and the Dakotas to form state constitutions and be admitted into the union, clearly states: “That the people inhabiting said proposed States do agree and declare that they forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within the boundaries thereof . . .”; and

WHEREAS, the preamble to the Montana Constitution states “We the people of Montana grateful to God for the quiet beauty of our state, the grandeur of our mountains, the vastness of our rolling plains, and desiring to improve the quality of life, equality of opportunity and to secure the blessings of liberty for this and future generations do ordain and establish this constitution.”; and

WHEREAS, the Ravalli County Commissioners took an oath of office pledging to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the state of Montana; and

WHEREAS, the USDA Forest Service estimates that 160 million people visited their national forests between 2008 and 2012, contributing $11 billion in recreation spending to nearby communities; and

WHEREAS, the USDA Forest Service spent more than $1.4 billion in firefighting costs nationwide in 2012; and

WHEREAS, state and local taxpayers do not have the financial resources to assume total obligation for the costs of fire management, maintenance of the Forest Highways, road and trails system, and other infrastructure located on America’s public lands within the boundaries of Ravalli County; and

WHEREAS, public lands connect the American people to their natural and cultural heritage, cultivate a conservation ethic, contribute to rural wealth, maintain clean water, support a diverse and healthy wildlife population and nurture the human spirit; and

WHEREAS, the Bitterroot National Forest and the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness are public lands owned and enjoyed by ALL Americans; then

Let it therefore be RESOLVED that the Ravalli County Board of Commissioners acknowledges and supports the reality that America’s public lands are held in trust for all Americans;

And let it be further RESOLVED that the Ravalli County Board of Commissioners requests a county attorney opinion on the constitutionality of local county government control of American public lands.

Enough is Enough!!

This is an urgent plea for financial support to fight the Legacy Ranch Subdivision and, ultimately, to put citizens back in charge of how development occurs in our BitterrootValley. Developers and speculators cannot be permitted to run rampant. If you value the open spaces and lack of congestion that characterize our BitterrootValley, this is exactly the time to step up and protect it.

After careful examination of the record, and after consultation with counsel, we believe the Commissioners’ Legacy Ranch decision contains numerous violations of law, violations of the Montana and US Constitutions, egregious procedural errors, and arbitrary and capricious behavior. We filed suit in District Court on August 10th, 2013 asking the judge to declare the approval illegal and to order a new application be submitted that follows the law.

Perhaps even more important, we intend to be actively engaged in state agency reviews of Legacy Ranch and, regardless of the outcome, to challenge the substance of State subdivision regulations, RavalliCounty regulations, and state agency review procedures through additional litigation.  Bitterrooters for Planning intends to pursue these issues to the highest level.

This movement to take back control of our valley will require substantial commitment of volunteer time and a significant war-chest. Though we understand that individual circumstances vary, we are asking for minimum contributions of $100. If you can do more, bless you. If you have to do less, give what you can and bless you. Please make out your checks to Bitterrooters for Planning and return to:

Bitterrooters for Planning

PO Box 505


 Your help now is critical to all that we are committed to in our campaign to preserve our irreplaceable quality of life in our valley.

Kelsey Milner, President


Commissioner Foss enlists county supremacy radicals in effort to take over public land!

Every Bitterroter who believes in the value of public land should be outraged with this assault on America. Please make plans to attend BOTH meetings. All reasonable folks, regardless of political strip, need to come together and make sure these “county supremacy” ideas are returned to the trash heap of anti-American nonsense where they belong!

Transfer of Public Lands”USFS” to the States meeting December 11, 6:30 PM at the Eagles FOE 125 N. 2nd Hamilton, MT
On December 11, 2013 Utah State Rep. Ken Ivory will be in the Bitterroot for two meetings, one in the afternoon for elected officials and business owners to be educated and updated on the regional movement to transfer our public lands to state and local management. This meeting will be in BJs back room, 2 pm to 3:30pm. We have limited seating in this room.
That evening at 6:30 pm a public meeting will be held at the Eagles. This meeting will be well advertised and open to all….
The transfer of public lands, as contracted in our states Enabling Act is the ONLY way that is big enough, 100% constitutionally solid, and a workable solution to our public land multiple use issues. At least there has not been any other idea that has a positive US Supreme Court ruling that I am aware of.
If you are not yet familiar with the American Lands Council and their leadership in this movement please go to

Earlier this month several of us attended two invitation only conferences on the legal and ethical way to accomplish our goals for state and local management of our public lands. The Heritage Foundation out of Washington DC supports the TPL concept and hosted one of the meetings which were held in Park City, Utah.
Please RSVP if attending the afternoon meeting so we can plan the setup. We need to know by Dec. 9 at the latest. Again, this meeting is for elected officials and supporting interested parties as it is a chance to discuss legislative and county government policy. The evening meeting will be more general and an overview along with how individuals can get involved.
We are looking for sponsor organizations to both assist with some small funds needed to pay for our share of the airfare and room rental at the Eagles and some advertising for a total of $500. If your business or organization cannot help with some funding we still would like your support and if ok the use of your organization/business name to use in our advertising as supporting organizations. We want the public to have awareness of and access to the various groups working together to solve these management problems in a legal and responsible way. We need to pull together moving forward as there is strength in numbers and we are all looking toward a workable solution.
Please do not hesitate to pass this on to other organizations and individuals who might like to attend or be a sponsor. A supporting sponsor just lists your organizations name, for more space to give contact info and purpose a donation is appreciated.
Hope to see you all on the 11th of December!
Suzy Foss


Bitterrooters for Planning files suit over Commissioners approval of Legacy Ranch preliminary plat

If you have been following the story, you know that Bitterrooters for Planning filed suit in District Court last Tuesday over the Ravalli County BOCC approval of the preliminary plat for the proposed Legacy Ranch subdivision.

The lawsuit document(s) are contained in the Legacy Ranch page or click here.

Our suit asks for: (1) a declaratory judgement that the BOCC’s August 14, 2013 Preliminary Plat decision approving the Legacy Ranch Subdivision is contrary to law for the reasons detailed in the suit, and (2) an order setting aside the BOCC’s decision and directing the BOCC to require the subdivider to submit a new preliminary plat application and to comply with all requirements of the Montana subdivision and Platting Act and all applicable law before reaching a decision approving or denying the preliminary plat.

This lawsuit should be viewed as just a beginning. The anti-government, anti-planning, anti-community, private property rights at all costs, ideology currently holding sway in our local government is a recipe for disaster and must be replaced. While there may be additional lawsuits in the future, the real solution is in electing quality persons to the commission, securing a real Growth Policy, and in modifying our rules and regulations to protect the people rather than the developer!

Stewart Brandborg, Occupation: Conservationist, Citizen Activist, Organizer

As we regard the religious fervor with which any attempts at land-use planning are attacked these days, it’s important to keep things in perspective. This includes refreshing our memories about seismic progressive achievements we now take for granted—at our peril. A good place to start with this reflection is with our founder, Steward Brandborg, whose timeless biography is posted below.

Brandborg, Stewart
Born: February 2, 1925
Occupation: Conservationist, Citizen Activist, Organizer

Stewart Brandborg worked closely with fellow conservationist Howard Zahniser(1) to assure the passage of the Wilderness Act(2) in 1964, and then devoted the next twelve years, during which he served as executive director of The Wilderness Society, to the designation of tens of millions of acres of wilderness for the new National Wilderness Preservation System, and more than 100 million acres in Alaska that have been preserved in the National Park, National Forest, Wildlife Refuge and Wilderness systems. Brandborg’s specialty was in training concerned citizens to participate in the designation process and in environmental activism that reached hundreds of grassroots leaders who attended the training seminars that he designed and oversaw.
Stewart Monroe Brandborg was born in Lewiston, Idaho on February 2, 1925, son of Edna Stevenson and Guy Mathew Brandborg. Guy, who spent his entire 40-year career with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), was Supervisor of the Bitterroot National Forest for Twenty years and, as a strong wilderness advocate, passed down to his son a love of nature and commitment to responsible stewardship(3). It was through him that Stewart, as a young person, had known Gifford Pinchot, the agency’s first great leader, and Robert Marshall, pioneer wilderness advocate and founder of The Wilderness Society.

Starting at the age of 17, Stewart worked seasonally in various national forests throughout Montana, Idaho and Oregon, on range and forest surveys, trail maintenance, and as a lookout fireman. By 1944, when he was 19 years old, he had risen through the ranks to train other lookout firemen in fire suppression.

Brandborg graduated from the University of Montana in 1949 with a B.S. in Wildlife Technology: in 1951 he earned his M.S. in Wildlife Management from the University of Idaho.
As a research fellow for the Idaho Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit at the University of Idaho, Brandborg completed seven years of field research on the life history of the mountain goat and wrote the first (and thus far only) monograph about this species. He performed population, range and management studies of the other major big game species of the region for the Montana and Idaho Departments of Fish and Game during the period 1947-54.

Brandborg left the Northern Rockies for Washington D.C. in 1954, when he was appointed Assistant Conservation Director of the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). With his background in public lands and wildlife ecology, his duties included planning and overseeing conservation education programs and editing NWF’s weekly “Conservation Report,” a digest of all the legislation on natural resource and conservation issues before the U.S. Congress. It was with NWF that he developed skills in public interest advocacy, giving testimony and in lobbying Congress for wildlife, public lands and a broad range of environmental issues and in mobilizing conservationists form all over the nation in support of these measures.

In 1956, The Wilderness Society (TWS) elected Brandborg to its council where he worked closely with TWS director Howard Zahniser on an issue of concern to both TWS and NWF(4). The Wilderness Bill, drafted by Zahniser in 1956, was the first legislation to propose a program to designate federally-owned wildlands as wilderness while giving them protection within a national Wilderness system. TWS offered Brandborg the position of Director of Special Projects in 1960. He worked closely with Zahniser to gain passage of the Wilderness Bill.

When Zahniser died suddenly in May of 1964, Brandborg was appointed to succeed him as Executive Director. He escorted the Wilderness Bill through its last crucial steps in Congress and final passage in September 1964. The Wilderness Act initially provided for the protection of some nine million acres of wilderness. Conservationists set what was then the ambitious goal of adding at least 50 million more acres of wilderness to the system and TWS, under Brandborg’s leadership, worked hard to achieve this. One of the stipulation s of the Wilderness Act is that, for each proposed new wilderness area, there is a public hearing and review by the Wilderness agencies and Congress. Drawing on his experience in Congress and with local and state environmental groups and leaders, Brandborg initiated training programs for citizen activists, teaching them to carry out field studies of the areas in question; to work with the agencies charged with managing the areas; to testify effectively; and to carry out grassroots publicity and lobbying campaigns to win Congressional designation of the areas. TWS brought selected state activist leaders to Washington for week-long seminars on how Congress and government agencies work, while providing assistance and advice for formation and funding of local groups. Between 1964 and 1974, 150 new areas in 40 states were reviewed for protection under the Wilderness Act. A total of more tha 103 million acres have now been designated as wilderness in Alaska nd in the lower 48 states, many of these a result of the dedication of TWS-trained volunteers.

Brandborg made other notable contributions to wilderness preservation and the nation’s public lands as well while with TWS. In 1970, he led a three-year fight against the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, which was found by the courts to violate the 1969 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). This landmark, precedent-setting case strengthened the environmental impact assessment procedures of NEPA. Brandborg also directed a two-year lobbying campaign that eventually resulted in the designation of more than 100 million acres of public lands in Alaska as wilderness, national parks and wildlife refuges. He enlisted Congressman John P. Saylor of Pennsylvania (the original House of Representatives sponsor of the Wilderness act) in sponsorship of the Wild and Scenic River Act written by John and Frank Craighead. This measure, with TWS support, was enacted in 1968, establishing our National system of wild and scenic rivers.

Brandborg worked on other environmental issues in addition to wilderness preservation. Prior to the first Earth Day in April, 1970, he gave strong backing to Earth Day organizers and provided start-up funding for the celebration. From 1971 to 1975, he served as co-chair of the Urban Environmental Conference, one of the nation’s first groups to focus on the joint concerns of environmentalists, urban reform groups, and organized labor. Members of its board included senior staff of such national organizations as TWS, United Auto Workers and the National Urban League. The issues it addressed in its congressional lobbying work included lead poisoning, occupational health, clean air and water, energy conservation, urban transit, and land-use planning(5).
When Brandborg left TWS in 1976 (he was dismissed by the governing council, some of whose members believed that he devoted too much time to wilderness preservation in Alaska), the organization’s membership had grown to 130,000 five times larger than when he had become Executive Director twelve years earlier. The organization’s budget was $1.8 million per year; there was a full-time staff of 42 plus twelve part-time regional organizers. Environmental movement historian Mark Dowie called Brandborg a “committed warrior,” and “the last true activist to lead” TWS.

Brandborg spent the reminder of the 1970s working for the government, first as Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of the Interior, and later as Special assistant to the Director of the National Parks Service. In these posts he worked with park personnel, teaching them how to work more effectively with citizen activists in building support for the National Park system.
From 1982 to 1986, he was national coordinator of the Regional Environment Leadership Conference Series, a collaboration between the ten largest national environmental organizations. This was a series of nine regional activist training seminars for environmentalists and representatives of labor and ethnic minorities, women and urban groups.

Brandborg moved back home to Western Montana’s Bitterroot Valley in 1986, where he quickly became involved in public land and other environmental issues in the Northern Rockies. He was founder and president of Friends of the Bitterroot in the period 1988 to 1990, and served on the board of directors of Wilderness Watch and several state and regional environmental groups. He lives near Darby, a small town in western Montana, with Ann Vee, his wife of more than 50 years . They have five gown children(6).


[2] This may seem a bit trite, but if you’re regarding the Bitterroot Range, or some similar awesome, intact landscape out your front window now as you sip your coffee and you aren’t awed at the significance of this singular act, the first of a string of similar acts that preserved the wild world we Westerners take for granted today, please refresh your memory:

[3] As a result of the Bitterroot’s Clearcut Controversy in the early ‘70s, in which Guy Brandborg . played a central role, the National Forest Management Act, which mandates public involvement in National Forest lands decisions, was passed.

[4] During this land-use renaissance period, Brandy was part of a group of iconic preservationists-poets, including Aldo Leopold, Olaus and Mardy Murie and Sigurd Olson just to name a few.

[5] The notion of, and fight for, Environmental Justice (of which land-use planning is a part) in our current age of global degradations and its deniers may be one of the most enduring legacies of Movement founders like Brandy. For instance:

The World Health Organization estimates that more than 88 percent of the existing global burden of disease due to climate change occurs in children less than five years of age. Although children everywhere are affected, most of the impact is felt in populations of low socioeconomic status, squarely raising the issue of environmental justice.”

[6] They now reside in Hamilton.

Commissioners “conditionally” approve Legacy Ranch


On July 3rd, our RavalliCounty commissioners, by a 5-0 vote, “conditionally” approved the preliminary plat for the Legacy Ranch subdivision submitted by Territorial Landworks. For background, here is a link to the commissioners’ draft decision, and additional links to newspaper stories and opinion pieces.

Commissioners’ draft decision

BFP response letter

Bitterroot Star article

Ravalli Republic story

LaCroix Blog


While Bitterrooters for Planning was disappointed in the decision, we fully expected it. Since their election in 2010, our BOCC and the Planning Department have worked diligently to put in place policies and regulations that virtually ensure the County will at least conditionally approve a developer’s preliminary plat application. As you read the draft decision, think about the following points:

  • All of the most important issues like potential impacts on water quality, sewage, pollution, traffic, and water rights are kicked down the road to State agencies. In the face of intense concern, our planning board, our commissioners, and the developer all pointed out that the regulations do not require local consideration of these issues. So they elected to abandon their responsibility to the health and safety of the residents of this valley in favor of greasing the skids for the developer.
  • Where is your input? The BOCC, the Planning Department, and Territorial Landworks have all been fond of mentioning the number of hours spent listening to public input. And indeed, the local community was quite vocal in their reasoned objections and provided our officials with a wealth of information not supplied by the developer. But where is the evidence they considered such testimony as anything but a nuisance? The only objections and concerns of yours that they discussed were the ones they and the developer unilaterally deemed “pertinent”. Of those that they did discuss, ALL were either dismissed out of hand or condescendedly “mitigated” through unenforceable “covenants” and “notices”.
  • Who is in control? At both state and county levels, we have been suffering the consequences of an ultra-conservative ideology that glorifies individual freedoms and private property rights. Resulting policies and regulations reject societal controls and community needs as irrelevant and unnecessary. Thus, your community has been excluded from having a say in the future of our valley. Put another way, their ideology is more important than your concerns. Evidence?
      • In 2008, in the wake of a well-orchestrated disinformation campaign promoted by true believers and funded by developers, people in the Bitterroot were convinced to repeal the one county document that could have saved us the grief of Legacy and Flatiron—our Growth Policy.
      • In 2010, with the same kind of well-orchestrated disinformation campaign, people were convinced to vote for three extreme-right ideologues who openly courted developers by vowing to do their bidding.
      • In 2012, despite well-seasoned, opposition candidates, people again voted, in large numbers, for the status quo, going so far this time as to vote for a candidate who openly managed a website that advocated for “constitutional” cop-killing.

If we are to succeed in reversing such horrible land-use decisions as Legacy Ranch and Flatiron it is imperative that we understand why this happened, and pay attention.

What Do We Do Now?

  • The official final decision will be released in a week or two. Our lawyers will review that decision as soon as it is available and then make a determination regarding litigation.
  • Because our Planning Department and BOCC elected to not weigh in on many substantive issues, but passed them on to DEQ, DNRC, and MDT instead, it is now up to concerned citizens to take the fight to Helena. No one else is looking out for us. Watch this site and our Facebook page for information on how to get involved in this effort. We will coordinate with other groups to make sure we are heard in this process.
  • In the longer term, both state and local land-use regulations must be revised in order to protect our land, resources, and culture from exploitation by speculators. We need to begin promoting appropriate legislation. Watch this site and our Facebook page to find out how to participate in this effort. We will want to coordinate with other groups to work with the governor’s office, appropriate state agencies and legislators on such legislation.
  • In the medium term, we need to establish a Growth Policy as a basis for reasonable land-use planning. It is unconscionable that our county officials have worked hard to keep citizens from having a say in how development occurs. Bitterrooters for Planning will coordinate with other groups to start this effort.
  • Ultimately, it is a movement by the citizens of the valley who will make the difference. We encourage you to become involved and demand better from our local government. Visit us frequently on this website or follow developments on Facebook.

Legacy Ranch hearing to continue on June 27th

Ravalli County commissioners to continue Legacy Ranch deliberations

This is a reminder that the BOCC public hearing on Legacy Ranch will continue this Thursday at 1:00 pm in the Commissioner’s conference room on the 3rd floor, 215 South 4th street in Hamilton. The BOCC could make their decision on Thursday, but the hearing is extended to Friday, if needed.

At the previous session of this hearing on June 11th, the commissioners and the developer agreed that more time was needed to review submitted evidence and comments relative to the review criteria. This was at least partially because BFP has retained legal counsel (Jack Tuholske and Matt Clifford) and made it clear we will not allow this travesty to proceed without a fight. In response to BFP efforts and the general community-wide outcry opposing Legacy, the commissioners have also retained legal counsel to guide them and are proceeding very carefully! It is not clear whether their lawyer fees will be paid by MACO or by the County.

Every member of Bitterrooters for Planning should pay close attention to the commissioner’s deliberations on Thursday. You will see clearly how the subdivision regulations designed by our commissioners assure that preliminary plat applications are, at a minimum, approved with conditions if the developer has sufficient time and money. You will also see how really important, substantive, issues like traffic impacts, impacts on water quality and quantity, sewage disposal, etc are “kicked down the road” to DNRC, DEQ, and MDT. And, not least, you will understand that your voice has been minimized, that community values and rights are irrelevant, and that cumulative effects do not exist.

So, please attend the hearing if at all possible. Regardless of the BOCC decision, BFP is committed to pursuing comprehensive land-use planning in Ravalli County and we need as many folks as possible to get informed and motivated!

See you Thursday,


P.S. I submitted a Valley Viewpoint to the Republic last week. Check out the comments.


Legacy Ranch Hearing Postponed Again

The County Commissioners and Territorial Landworks have once again changed the time of the commissioners’ hearing on Legacy Ranch. It is now scheduled as follows:

June 3rd, Monday, Commissioners Conference Room 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

June 3rd, Monday, Lone Rock School Gym 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.  

June 4, Tuesday, Commissioners Conference Room 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (Continued if needed)

June 5, Wednesday, Commissioners Conference Room 9:00 – 5:00 p.m. (Continued if needed)

Please check this site frequently for information regarding continuing efforts to stop the Legacy Ranch subdivision.