VOTER BEWARE of this tweet from Greg Gianforte! Why? Because it’s corporate pandering of the worst kind and, quite frankly, a serious threat to the Montana that we all treasure.
The average Montana voter probably isn’t aware that the Board of Land Commissioners, more commonly referred to as “The Land Board,” is comprised of Montana’s top elected officials or that Montana even has a land board. The Land Board is ancillary to their official duties and requires no specific requirements other than being popularly elected but they are required to make informed decisions on land use, including: grazing and farm leases, timber harvests, leases for oil, gas and mining operations, easements for powerlines, roads and driveways, recreational use fees, cabin lease fees and land sales and exchanges. They oversee the use of some 5.2 million acres of land that was passed on to the state by that big bad federal government in 1889 upon statehood. By an act of Congress, any revenue generated by the leasing of this land is used to support public education.
Now look back at that tweeted picture of ‘the new state land board (come 2017)…’ and take into consideration who they are and what they stand for. Gianforte, Rosendale, Fox, Arntzen and Stapleton. Two are out of state millionaires who have spent less than 20 years in Montana (one of whom apparently does more hunting of drones than birds); one is a born and raised Montanan; the other two are termed out legislators with dismal voting records who appear to be looking for a new place to land. What they do represent is a group tied in with controversial land grabs by private entities and citizens across the USA. Of course they all believe they can better manage not only the state lands under the care of the land board but what the hell, let’s take all that federal land too! And while we’re at it, how about selling a few million acres here and there. Locking up the king’s forest won’t be a problem since there’s a few thousand acres left for the common folk to use if they can afford a day off.
The agenda is not one of sustainable land use through careful approaches to resource extraction to minimize long term damage while maximizing financial gains. The agenda is not one of sustainable jobs for workers and in turn generations of work for generations of Montanans; their goal is no different than that of the Copper Kings, lumber barons, or corporate agriculture; extract the treasures of Montana and turn it into a wasteland in the interest of corporate greed. Those who toil on the land will not be left with a rocking chair on the porch from which to greet their grandchildren. Instead both the land and the workers will be exploited and left with nothing in the end: no land to hunt, fish, camp and hike on let alone provide a decent paying job.
A picture is worth 1000 words; in this case it’s worth five: if they win, Montanans lose.
‘Maybe all men got one big soul ever’body’s a part of.’