On Saturday, hundreds of hunters, anglers, and other outdoor enthusiasts flooded the lawn of the Montana State Capitol in Helena. Despite a torrential downpour, many stayed to listen to speakers advocating for the protection of federal lands. Their message: keep public lands in the hands of the public.
“People showed up in droves,” Land Tawney, president of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (BHA), told OutdoorHub. “Over 300 people on a rainy Saturday when they could be out chasing elk or watching a homecoming game, it’s a big deal. It should not be understated.”
The rally was organized by several hunting and conservation groups in response to proposals for federal land to be turned over to local control. Montana is one of several states where negative attitudes towards the federal government have led to calls for public land be returned to state management, but Tawney said that such an idea would be disastrous.
“There are some concerns about the way our public lands are being managed now and I think those are valid,” Tawney said. “There are some people who say we turn them over to the states. But the states cannot afford them and will face two choices: either raise taxes, or sell public land to come up for that shortfall.”