This letter is in response to Carlotta Grandstaff’s letter dated November 8th.
While Ms. Grandstaff is welcome to her own opinion, she can’t have her own facts. The last line of Ms. Grandstaff’s opinion piece reads “I hope the voters recognize that in Theresa Manzella, Ravalli County has an elected representative to the Montana Legislator who supports transferring national forests to, ultimately, private ownership. If you support the notion of keeping public lands in public hands, then please don’t support Theresa Manzella.” That statement is a lie and I challenge Ms. Grandstaff to produce any document that indicates that I support public lands sold to private ownership.
What I have said, and what my public voting record clearly indicates is as follows:
At this point, which agency owns the land is not as important as how our public lands are managed. We all want healthy air, water, and wildlife, abundant outdoor recreation and safe, vibrant communities, but nearly everyone in Montana knows that federal policies enacted by distant politicians in WA DC are producing very poor results. I find the unhealthy air quality and economic devastation created by lack of proper management unacceptable.
The Environmental Quality Council, on which I serve, found that 22,000 miles of the 32K miles of roads on U.S. Forest Service lands have now been closed to multiple uses. The federal government has cut off way too much access that should be left available for recreation, initial attack firefighting, search and rescue, and resource management. We must implement significant reforms to responsibly reduce wildfire threats, protect our environment, enhance hunting opportunities, revive our economy and keep access to public lands open.
Democrats and Green Decoy groups like to say that if public land is transferred to the state, we would “sell off the public lands to the highest bidder.” That is a patently false claim. For over 100 years Montana has managed 6 million acres of state-owned public lands, and we have done a very good job of it. We protect the environment, prevent wildfires, produce valuable commodities that provide jobs and revenues for public services, and we outperform the federal government economically at a rate of about 5 to 1.
Last session (2015) I supported SB274 to ensure public lands are kept public, HB 496 to study the feasibility of the state assuming management of some federally held public lands, and SB309 to incentivize more access to public lands. Finding ways to secure better management of public lands will continue to be a high priority for me.
Rep. Theresa Manzella