2015 Montana Legislature
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HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 19
INTRODUCED BY E. LIESER
A JOINT RESOLUTION OF THE SENATE AND THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE STATE OF MONTANA EMPHASIZING THE VALUE OF PUBLIC LANDS IN MONTANA TO THE STATE'S ECONOMY, RECREATION, HERITAGE, AND QUALITY OF LIFE; AND OPPOSING ANY EFFORT TO CLAIM, TAKE OVER, LITIGATE FOR, OR SELL OFF FEDERAL LANDS WITHIN THE STATE OF MONTANA.
WHEREAS, Montana has some of the most beautiful landscapes on earth, including mountains, rivers, forests, foothills, prairies, sagebrush steppes and badlands; and
WHEREAS, many of those stunning places are public lands owned by all Americans; and
WHEREAS, public land under the management of the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and other federal agencies constitutes more than 28% of the land in Montana; and
WHEREAS, these federal lands in Montana are essential to the quality of life in Montana, providing public recreational opportunity for hunting, fishing, hiking, snowmobiling, riding all-terrain vehicles, wildlife watching, backpacking, skiing, cycling, sightseeing, and numerous other outdoor recreational activities; and
WHEREAS, these federal lands are also incredibly rich in wildlife; and
WHEREAS, Montanans of every economic class enjoy world-class hunting and angling opportunities, including on these public lands; and
WHEREAS, outdoor recreation is a major economic driver in Montana, generating an estimated $5.8 billion in economic activity and supporting more than 62,000 jobs in the state according to a study conducted by the Outdoor Industry Association; and
WHEREAS, Montana business owners consistently cite the appeal of outdoor recreation as a major draw to help recruit employees to new and existing businesses in our state, which is another way federal public lands help drive our economy; and
WHEREAS, Montana's agriculture industry includes numerous ranchers who depend on grazing on public land, including federal land, to sustain their operations; and
WHEREAS, Montana's timber industry is dependent on federal land for a part of its timber supply; and
WHEREAS, there is a broad consensus in Montana on the need for more effective management of our forests in areas near communities and public infrastructure; and
WHEREAS, Montanans are actively collaborating among diverse interests and with federal land managers to move good forest management projects forward; and
WHEREAS, federal agencies that manage these lands employ hundreds of Montanans who pay taxes and contribute to their communities; and
WHEREAS, Americans from throughout the country value these public lands as a part of our national heritage; and
WHEREAS, Montana's forests are naturally prone to fire, including periodic large-scale fires, as part of the ecosystem in which they have evolved over millennia, although a warming climate has accentuated the process; and
WHEREAS, federal money to fund firefighting costs is essential to protecting communities and public infrastructure, including municipal watersheds, particularly in dry years; and
WHEREAS, periodically severe wildland fire seasons can result in suppression costs in the tens of millions of dollars in Montana alone; and
WHEREAS, in the event that Montana were to acquire federal lands, a severe fire season would be difficult for Montana to pay for out of the state budget and would require large state tax increases; and
WHEREAS, a 2014 poll conducted by Colorado College found that Montanans are hunters and anglers at some of the highest rates in the country; and
WHEREAS, that same poll showed that Montanans by more than 70% oppose efforts to dispose of federal lands; and
WHEREAS, decades of declining funding to federal land management agencies has reduced their capacity to meet their multiple use mission.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE AND THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE STATE OF MONTANA:
That the Montana Legislature oppose any effort to claim, take over, litigate for, or sell off federal lands within the State of Montana.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Legislature strongly support federal land management in Montana and the incredible value they bring to our state's economy, recreation, heritage, and quality of life.
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