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I love exploring and enjoying federal public lands, be it Montana, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, wherever in our wonderful country. And I love introducing out-of-state friends to unique glorious landscapes on public lands in Montana. Federal lands belong to everyone — not just those of us who live in Montana. A recent nonpartisan survey of Rocky Mountain states’ voters strongly supports federal public lands as "American places."

I strongly support keeping public lands under federal jurisdiction. I have worked closely with federal land agencies in Montana. While the lands may not be "perfectly" managed, federal employees live here and do care about the lands. They work hard to develop public use opportunities as allowed within budget constraints.

As a responsible citizen and taxpayer in Montana, I am concerned about what a state takeover really means. Some legislators propose laws that say lands will not be sold, but laws can be repealed when management cost skyrockets and economic gain tempts. Any transfer of federal land management to Montana state will be extremely confusing and costly. Sadly, it will result in lost opportunities for all people who use federal public lands.

Theodore Roosevelt described federal public lands as "essential democracy — it is the preservation of the scenery, of the forests, of the wilderness life and the wilderness game for the people as a whole instead of leaving the enjoyment thereof to be confined to the very rich who can control private preserves."

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Let's protect federal public lands for all to use and enjoy!

Rita Harding

Billings

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