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Like many sportsmen, I largely depend on public lands to hunt. In addition to generally being accessible, they often provide quality habitat and include some of the most scenic areas in Montana.

This is certainly true for hunting district 410, one of Montana’s most prized, located north of Winnet. These lands contain a stunning range of sweeping grasslands and deeply rugged river breaks while providing critical habitat for trophy ungulate species such as mule deer and elk. As a whole, this wider landscape is unique in that it represents some of the last large blocks intact grasslands on the Great Plains.

Many of the public lands in this area are managed by the Bureau of Land Management. As part of a process to update the management plan for this area the agency identified about 160,000 acres as having wilderness characteristics — lands largely natural in character with opportunities for solitude and backcountry recreation.

Local BLM staff initially drafted a plan that proposed managing most of these lands to protect their wildland and wildlife values, but that plan was significantly altered by political appointees in the Department of Interior so that now the protective measures proposed for these lands will be eliminated.

This altered plan the public is being asked to comment on is extreme and lacks the kind of balance that we should expect from a public land agency managing our public lands.

Larry Heimgartner

Big Sandy

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