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The idea of unowned, accessible land areas is centuries old. In ninth-century England, those areas were called “common lands” and those who used those areas were referred to as “commoners.” I grew up in Eastern Montana in the ‘40s and ‘50s, and I consider myself a commoner. All the land along the Yellowstone River was mine to use for fishing and hunting or just exploring. “No Trespassing” signs were few and far between.

So, it probably won’t surprise you that recent efforts to block commoners from accessing common lands ticks me off. Whether it’s the fortunate few buying up prime land in Montana and posting “No Trespassing” signs or government agents whittling away areas of protected land for the oil and gas corporations’ benefit, I consider all such efforts attacks on our Montana values.

Commoners suffer most. Not just hunters and fishermen, but the commoners who own small service businesses, guides and outfitters, motel and café owners.

In November, my votes will go only to commoner candidates. How about yours?

Galen McKibben