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Hey Montana voters, here's another good reason to keep Senator John Walsh (D) in the U.S. Senate:

Senator John Walsh today introduced legislation to impose new rules that would prevent Congress from attempting to sell off public lands.

Speaking from the Senate Floor, Walsh blasted an initiative passed by the House of Representatives that would sell or transfer public lands managed by the federal government, calling it “as radical as it is wrong.” In April, the House of Representatives passed the Ryan Budget which included the authority to sell off up to 21 million acres of public land in Montana.

“Selling off our kids’ and grandkids’ heritage is a terrible idea,” Walsh said. “I want my granddaughter to grow up in a Montana with the same easy access to the streams and forests that I enjoyed, whether she wants to hunt, hike, fish, or bike.”

Walsh criticized efforts to transfer federal lands, saying, “What this really means is handing over our most popular recreation areas to the highest out-of- state bidder, creating the next copper barons and trophy homes. This theory is as radical as it is wrong.”

In Montana, public lands drive the tourism economy that supports 64,000 jobs and annually generates $5.8 billion in revenue.

Walsh has focused on public lands protection to preserve both Montana’s outdoor heritage and the small businesses the outdoor economy supports. He sponsored the Rocky Mountain Front Protection Act, North Fork Protection Act, Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, and a bill to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund. - Ammoland, 6/24/14

Here's what Walsh had to say on the Senate floor:

In Montana, tourism is critical to our economy. Outdoor recreation supports 64,000 jobs and generates $5.8 billion in revenue annually. Cutting off access or selling the land to out-of-state development is a direct threat to jobs in Montana.

Turning over land to the states is just one step away from privatizing it. And there is no question that private land is the misguided ultimate goal by many who don’t understand our outdoor heritage in the west.

In the year 2000, I led the response of the Montana National Guard to the wildfires that year that consumed over 1 million acres of Montana land that summer.

The Departments of Agriculture and Interior have spent about $1.8 billion annually to fight wildfires in the last five years. States simply cannot afford that price tag. One bad wildfire season could bankrupt a state.

I want to share a little more what is at stake here: Under the Ryan Budget in the House, with an auction of our public lands, Montana hunters could lose access to the elk wallows of the Pioneer Mountains.

You might hear elk bugling on Tenderfoot Creek in the Little Belts, but it could be on private land instead of land protected by the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Montanans could be shut out of the Missouri River Breaks, locked out of putting a canoe in or hunting a mule deer or sheep.

We could lose the Rocky Mountain Front, facing padlocks and orange signs instead of open space and the chance for a bighorn sheep tag.

Under the House plan, anglers in Montana could lose the headwaters of Rock Creek or the Smith River and the chance to sink a perfect fly from a streamside the public owns.

Despite years of effort to secure access, we could be shut out of land around the Three Dollar Bridge south of Bozeman that helped kids like me, growing up, fish in our own blue-ribbon streams. The same thing could happen to the Centennials and Swan.

We could lose the best that Eastern Montana has to offer, from the monster bucks and turkeys on the Custer National Forest to the duck factory of the BLM’s prairie potholes.

Under the House plan, we could be facing closed roads, closed trails, and closed land in the Gallatin National Forest that thousands of Montanans worked together twenty years ago to keep open and keep public forever.

Montana is the Last Best Place because we can hunt, fish, hike and play on land that we all own. I will fight to keep that way. - Flathead News Group, 6/25/14

Walsh's opponent, Tea Party Rep. Steve Daines (R. MT), has helped block legislation to protect public lands in hopes of defeating Walsh this year:

U.S. Rep. Steve Daines recently told U.S. News that his strategy to win the Senate race this year is to pick off and neutralize constituents like advocates for the North Fork. His recent actions show why he can’t be trusted.

U.S. Sens. John Walsh and Jon Tester are pushing a bill, originally introduced in 2010, to withdraw the U.S. watershed from future development, following through on a deal between Montana and British Columbia to permanently protect the North Fork.

Montanans were hopeful when Daines introduced a companion bill last year marking the first time in 30 years that the whole delegation supported a public lands bill. Our hopes rose further when on March 4 the House of Representatives passed the bill.

Unfortunately, the North Fork has now run into the tea party gauntlet in the Senate. What is clear is that the game was rigged.

On April 3, three Republican senators from other states — Pennsylvania, Oklahoma and Texas — blocked our senators’ attempt to pass this made-in-Montana bill in the Senate. The senator from Pennsylvania, Pat Toomey, recently donated $10,000 to Daines’ campaign.

As Daines knows, the vote in the Senate (by “unanimous consent”) was the Senate’s equivalent of how the House passed the bill. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, “most noncontroversial measures are approved by ‘suspension of the rules’ in the House, and by unanimous consent in the Senate.”

In fact, all eight Senate public lands bills that have passed the chamber this Congress passed by unanimous consent. Those bills set aside 85,000 acres of new wilderness and 73 miles of wild and scenic river designation in eight states.

So why is the North Fork bill so different for Senate Republicans?

The answer reminds me of another Senate race 26 years ago when President Ronald Reagan pocket-vetoed the last Montana wilderness bill to pass Congress in order to jam then-Sen. John Melcher in his race against Conrad Burns.

For example, Sen. Coburn of Oklahoma is insisting on the opportunity to offer controversial amendments to the North Fork that would have brought down the entire proposal. This is a familiar ploy.

A similar Republican demand last fall (supported by Daines) caused the shutdown of the federal government for 16 days, costing Montana upwards of $45 million in lost business from Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks alone. - Great Falls Tribune, 6/20/14

Daines has been voting to sell off public lands since early last year and Walsh has highlighted conservation and hunting groups anger with Daines.  You click here to read more:

FILE - This Jan. 26, 2014 file photo shows Montana Lt. Gov. John Walsh speaking in Helena, Mont. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock said Friday he has appointed Walsh to serve out the term of Sen. Max Baucus, who will be leaving the seat to become the next ambassador to China.  (AP Photo/Matt Volz, File) ORG XMIT: WX109
Walsh has joined sides with groups angry at Daines and hopefully they will come out and help get elected to a full term:

Montana Senator John Walsh joined some local anglers in breaking out the reels and rods to kick off the summer.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Ryan Budget last month - which included a provision to sell public lands across the country. But many Montanans say they don't want to see that happen.

Sen. Walsh spent Saturday with some fisherman who say they are worried about Montana's public access areas. The Democrat says he'll continue to fight for the right of free public access - including along the Clark Fork River.

"I don't think, you know, that we ever want to move to a point where you have to pay to fish, pay to hike or pay to use what is so special here in Montana," Sen. Walsh said. - KPAX, 6/22/14

This is a serious issue Montana voters need to seriously consider before going into the voting booth.  Lately Daines has been attacking Walsh's military career which comes off as Swiftboating.  It's the same type of shit Saxby Chambliss used against Max Cleland and George W. Bush against John Kerry.  We can't allow this to happen to the only Iraq War Veteran serving in the U.S. Senate.  So please do donate and get involved with Walsh's campaign:
Senator and candidate John Walsh with (left) Shawn Blackhorse, Vice Secretary of the Crow Tribe, and Alvin (AJ) Not Afraid Jr., Secretary of the Crow Tribe, at the Montana Democratic PartyÕs Mansfield-Metcalf Dinner.

Originally posted to pdc on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 09:59 PM PDT.

Also republished by Military Community Members of Daily Kos, The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party, and Montana Kossaks.

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Comment Preferences

  •  It's not just Montana. (9+ / 0-)

    Kevin McCarthy, House Majority Leader elect, has said they will block funding of infrastructure by measures such as raising the price of gas because they want to extend exploration of federal lands, i.e. pillage and pollute it.

    Please note that lamps in the MAGIC LAMP EMPORIUM are on a genie time-share program so there may be a slight delay in wish fulfillment. (◕‿◕)

    by Mopshell on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 10:16:28 PM PDT

  •  Add to that (5+ / 0-)

    they want to start a uranium mine here in the Black Hills of SD. Which everyone who lives here is against. We've had enough of strip mining here, whole hills gone... forever.  

    "Nothing travels faster than the speed of light, with the possible exception of bad news. Which follows its own special rules." ~ Douglas Adams

    by coyote66 on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 10:35:25 PM PDT

  •  He has my vote.... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jan4insight, kurt, ban nock

    ... or he would if I lived in Montana.  These lands are a natural resource.  As long as they are kept open to the public for hunting and fishing it beats the hell out of a strip mine in my book.  

  •  Kudos to Sen. Walsh! Sending virtual (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kurt, ban nock

    support from me, a former US Forest Service worker :)

    "I don't love writing, but I love having written" ~ Dorothy Parker // Visit my Handmade Gallery on Zibbet

    by jan4insight on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 10:46:15 PM PDT

  •  I keep thinking this could never happen (0+ / 0-)

    it's just too outrageous. I think no one would ever vote to pass such a thing. But I'm wrong.

    I think you have a confluence of two very different ideas in respect to public lands. A shadowy private interest that want to buy them for private use, and a large population of westerners that are fed up with a government led by urban elites half a continent away imposing restrictions on land use.

    “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

    by ban nock on Thu Jun 26, 2014 at 04:15:01 AM PDT

  •  Recced for bringing attention to an imp. issue (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I don't think many Americans realize just how radical the Republicans are today.  They would sell off our public lands for a song just to meet their idea of what small government should look like.

    I'll bet a lot of Republican voters in the west are among the folks I see hunting and camping and fishing and hiking on national forests and BLM land.  Do they realize that their representatives and senators want to sell that land out from under them?  I hope the people doing political ads seize on this issue this fall.

    (Also--the comment directly above mine seems to imply that it's the goverment's fault that republicans have radical views on public lands.  Like if we just grazed and logged and mined a little more, republicans would become public lands supporters. What a crock of shit!  The R's hate public land because they hate government, not because they disagree over how to best best manage the properties.)

    The next Noah will work a short shift. - Charles Bowden

    by Scott in NAZ on Thu Jun 26, 2014 at 04:53:07 AM PDT

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