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 (www.americanlandscouncil.org) 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.” www.termwiki.com) 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: firstname.lastname@example.org; PO Box 8, Stevensville, MT, 59870
Ravalli Republic: email@example.com: 232 Main St., Hamilton, MT 59840
Missoulian: firstname.lastname@example.org; 500 S. Higgins, Missoula,
MT Ravalli County Commissioners: email@example.com; (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.