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With today's political agenda prioritizing private commercial development over conservation on our public lands, it should come as no surprise that the recently released Bureau of Land Management Lewistown draft management plan was significantly altered by Department of Interior BLM officials in Washington, D.C.

A draft plan originally developed between 2014-2016 provided a balance in use. The new plan is extreme, heavily tilted toward extraction and other impactful uses.

An area of key interest locally is the more undeveloped primitive lands in the Musselshell River Breaks, south of the CMR National Wildlife Refuge. Over 20 units covering 170,000 acres has been identified by the BLM as having wilderness characteristics, and combined with the high wildlife values, is an area coveted by hunters and other enthusiasts nationwide.

Although the local BLM office originally proposed to manage over half of this area to protect wilderness characteristics, the new draft proposal won't protect a single acre! In addition, the draft plan proposes to eliminate current protective designations of four units long managed for wildlife, historic and geologic values.

Tell the BLM officials in Washington, D.C., to honor their multiple use mandate and restore balance to the Lewistown management plan, as the local office originally proposed. Managing zero acres to protect wildlands and other conservation values, while making available 99 percent of the surface area for energy development is not balanced!

Arthur Canfield

Lewistown

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