I am continually amazed by the lack of understanding of federal public land laws and policies by politicians with Governor Bullock’s article “President should see first-hand what makes America great.” He sent his inaccurate article to the liberal Washington Post. The American Antiquities Act of 1906 16, USC 431-433 states “… may reserve as a part thereof parcels of land, the limits of which in all cases shall be confined to the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected.”
First important fact is these lands are now and will continue to be public lands of the U.S.A. The law itself was to protect “sites,” not create vast reserves on what already is public land. Second, existing public land laws protect the integrity of these public lands and sites under the existing Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, 43 U. S. C.1701 including other Public Land Laws.
Federal public land cannot be sold, period, or transferred to states to sell and remains a no-brainer to nowhere. Still to find out is how the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation receives $8.5 million per year in federal farm subsidies on OUR public state lands. Where does all the dough go? How about an audit? Maybe Governor Bullock can tell us voters?
These are federal public lands before and after any monument that will continue to be managed by BLM under public land law. The obvious change would be closing public land access roads and, by doing that, is an anti-hunting tool and also loss of recreational use. I recall the Missouri River Breaks Monument by President Clinton vividly with 12 years as a biologist in Malta. On those public lands the monument closed off 46 miles of access roads which drastically impacted hunting and recreation opportunity. Gone then was excellent mule deer hunting. All that land was and still is public land to be managed by the BLM, but vehicle access for all including seniors and disabled was lost with the “monument” creation. But then President Clinton was anti-hunting and anti-gun ownership.
The public is misinformed about these monuments by politicians these days who never look at an accurate public land status map or laws. I have asked that specific question at a Montana State Land Board meeting in Helena; they would not answer. In Montana we have nearly eight million acres of federal BLM land and 17 million acres of National Forest. We have five million acres remaining of public state land in Montana. The selling any of these public lands before any on-the-ground first-hand professional inventories of every single acre is theft of Montana public lands -- so tell that to the Washington Post, governor!
The governor’s article is so misleading, political and inaccurate. Who are the ones actually selling public land and violating antiquities and historic preservation laws? It is the Montana State Land Board under Governor Bullock! They have sold nearly 70,000 acres of OUR public state land under the misguided Land Banking Program and with no provision to purchase or replace land sold. I was involved with the state Land access issue from day one starting in 1976 while hunting north of Malta. Governor Stephens signed HB 778 into law on April 21, 1991 for recreational use on 5.2 million acres of OUR public state lands.
The Governor now should read the Montana Attorney General’s Report of 1996 where the Board of Regents illegally sold state land and violated state laws. Montana’s state lands were being sold with no professional inventory of a single acre under the Montana Antiquities Act 22-3-421-M.C.A. or for historic values and all the State Laws violated as today are identified in that report. I am pleased we have Mr. Zinke as Secretary of the Interior to oversee our federal public lands and they are in good hands not like Montana where I am worried and no “first-hand” for Montana.
Jack D. Jones of Butte, a Montana native, worked as a wildlife biologist in Montana for 36 years with the Bureau of Land Management.