Why does Montana have low wages? It’s the price we pay to live and recreate here. Isn’t that what our parents always told us? Ask just about any native Montanan about their childhood and they’ll tell you stories of camping, fishing, hunting, hiking, rock hounding, exploring and just playing in the mountains of Montana. And where does all of that take place? Primarily on public lands. And how do Montanans get to that public land? Primarily through access routes and access sites. One such example is a fishing access site and one such site is on the East Gallitin River in Bozeman. And who is the not so good neighbor of that public access site? Gubernatorial candidate Greg Gianforte. That would be the same candidate who wants to ‘create jobs’ and bring Montanans back home to work. But clearly not to play.
Gianforte would have us believe this is all just a misunderstanding. He loves to have people park on his property and canoe down the river, even though in his complaint they were harming his property. The real story is that ‘Greg For Montana’ hired the now guilty Art Wittich to sue the very state Gianforte hopes to spend his hard earned money to become the CEO of. Talk about ‘tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are’. From the multiple stories floating around it sounds like there was a flurry of exchanges between Wittich and FWP back in 2010 (about the same time he was engaged in illegal campaign coordination), yet none of those exchanges have been made public. (No doubt the highly trained and bloodhound state bureau of Lee Enterprises will sniff out those emails in short order.)
Back to public lands. Gianforte has clearly aligned himself with key players involved in attempts to bring federal lands under control of the state land board and then with a slate of candidates who’s only mission in being elected is to gain control of the land board. In their minds, this will dawn a new day of land control for the purpose of economic development and resource extraction. Also read that to mean the sale and locking off of public lands.
Gianforte had to paths to follow on this access issue. Pay a friendly visit to FWP and talk through the issue and ask them to take a look to see how they might resolve in the best interest of all parties, to include recreationalists. Or hire an angry, anti-government attorney to sue the State of Montana and then let the case just drop and allow him to bring it to court another day, perhaps on a day in November when the votes are counted. Greg’s path is clear as the court records show. And as clear as his path was, his course for the future of Montana is also clear, public access will no longer be public and public lands will no longer be public.
‘Maybe all men got one big soul ever’body’s a part of.’