In Montana, we’re lucky to have some of the most special landscapes in the country that provide high-quality recreation opportunities. As an avid outdoorsman, I love to hike, canoe Montana’s lakes and streams and photograph our beautiful state. It’s why our outdoor recreation industry is one of the lead economic drivers, generating $7.1 billion and maintaining 71,000 jobs each year.
That’s why it astounds me that we allow speculative oil and gas leasing and policies such as non-competitive leasing. Under this policy, companies can lease lands that are not formally bid on in the leasing process, for prices as low as $1.50 an acre. Instead of managing the lands for conservation or recreation values, the Bureau of Land Management spends taxpayer dollars to administer and monitor leases that are rarely ever developed. The agency’s recent draft Resource Management Plan for the Lewistown area would leave most lands open to this practice.
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We as taxpayers deserve fair market value in how our lands are managed. Non-competitive leasing is a wasteful practice that doesn’t benefit taxpayers and wastes valuable agency resources. The practice should be ended and we should instead work to ensure that Montana stays the way it is: an outdoor recreation center where hunting, fishing and other outdoor pursuits which will help drive our economy now and into the future.