I attended the meeting on Saturday at the Billings library on “protecting” East Rosebud Creek with a possible “wild and scenic” designation. In what turned out to be an infomercial for American Rivers and a campaign stop for John Walsh, it was sadly lacking in presenting any other point of view. The polling presented by American Rivers offered such probing questions as: “Do you think rivers are important?” A petition mentioned by this panel claimed to have 1,600 signatures, including those from 43 states and seven countries — a perfect example of public vs. local input.
While the “wild and scenic river” designation sounds innocuous, what happens is that control is gradually wrested from the local landowner and passed to the federal and/or state government, including one-quarter to one-half mile on each bank, for "administration." Development is essentially shut down — even clean, renewable hydroelectric power. Forget about building even a chicken coop without government approval. A vision of the barricades erected in the fall of 2013 by the current administration at Montana hunting and fishing sites (and Yellowstone National Park) comes to mind.
Personal property rights formed the basis for individual wealth creation in our country and nothing should be done to infringe upon them — especially under the guise of “protecting” something. If you own a thousand acres or a home in the city, you benefit from personal property rights. Let's keep it that way. Montana is being “protected” to death.