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The welfare ranchers on the east side of the Crazy Mountains are at it again looking to further lock the public out of its lands and privatize our public wildlife.

Outfitter Chuck Rein, Lorents Grosfield, the Rocky Mountain Stockgrowers and the Montana Stockgrowers Association all came in to support HB550, carried by Rep. Alan Redfield, R-Livingston. It tries to take roads off the state gas tax allocations that are dedicated to public use “as determined by an authorized governmental entity with the written approval of the landowners.” They claim it’s a harmless way to clean up state law about gas-tax allocations. Although their true intentions are clear.

These are the same people who have blocked off the public from reaching the lands we all own. Rein even admitted it in the hearing saying, "he closes the road as needed for 'management' purposes during his outfitting hunting seasons." Translation: he wants to keep elk hunters out while he sells bulls to his paying clients. Of course, then he comes complaining about all the elk on his land, (meaning the cow elk he can’t sell as trophies) that would be better managed as long as public is provided rightful access. This, in turn, not only hinders and violates the rights of hunters and conservationists, but also disrupts the future growth of our largest industry.

Even if the bill just affects gas taxes, these people will come in the next session and work to eliminate more public roads and access to public lands. Select politicians, such as Redfield, are more than willing to help, even as it harms the majority of Montana's citizens and our heritage.

Kyle Martinez

Billings

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