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Montana is blessed with some of the best hunting and fishing opportunities in the west. The habitat we have is of the highest quality, which is why we have great fish and wildlife populations to pursue.

As a sportsman who hunts in central and eastern Montana, it’s disappointing to know that the recent Energy Dominance doctrine of the administration is allowing oil and gas leasing in much of that high quality habitat. The upcoming December oil and gas lease sale for the BLM Miles City Office is a perfect example of this, where almost every parcel is being offered in greater sage grouse habitat, even though the BLM is required to prioritize leasing outside of these areas. Multiple parcels are also located in crucial winter range habitat for mule deer and pronghorn antelope.

Responsible development of energy resources is necessary and should be pursued in a balanced manner considering all of its impacts to our landscapes. A prioritized approach to energy leasing is one of the reasons why the greater sage grouse did not warrant listing as an endangered species. These sales do not consider how leasing in critical habitat will impact big game and species like the greater sage grouse in the long run, which flies in the face of hunters, wildlife, and anyone who enjoys these public lands each year. The BLM should permanently defer the parcels that are located in these areas.

James Wyatt

Great Falls

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