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Montana truly is the last best place. Not only because of its great people, abundant wildlife or the grand vistas, but also because of our willingness as Montanans to work together. In December, Sen. Steve Daines and in early March, Rep. Greg Gianforte introduced legislation to eliminate Wilderness Study Areas without broad input from Montanans and without holding a single public meeting or town hall. Daines and Gianforte are more than willing to listen to those with whom they already agree, but have so far been unwilling to begin a dialogue those who want to see a collaborative process and believe their introduced legislation ignores some important facts. For example, in the latest draft of the Forest Plan for Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest, the Big Snowies Wilderness Study Area is recommended for wilderness.

Daines and Gianforte should follow the example of Sen. Jon Tester who brought together a broad coalition of Montanans to support Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act. Tester has brought loggers, recreation users, wilderness advocates and others together to support the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act. Not every wilderness study area should be made into a Wilderness Area but before we release what could possibly be the last eligible wilderness, Montanans should work on a collaborative process to decide the future of our Wilderness Study Areas.

I personally invite Daines and Gianforte to come and tour these lands with me and stand witness to their incredible character. I would be happy to be their guide.

Zach Angstead

Great Falls