Montana has some of the most beautiful natural settings in the world. Our mountains, lakes and rivers are beyond compare. However, much of our public lands are landlocked by private property, or under the control of the Federal government, preventing public access.
This represents a major flaw in land management strategies, and one that has cost the state, and the people of Montana greatly. Not only does this represent an unfair loss to the average hunter or outdoorsman, but it also represents a missed opportunity for future generations. This, like most Montana issues, can be easily remedied with the right approach.
Firstly, so called Federal Lands must be transferred to the State of Montana immediately. If we do not have control of what is ours, it is, by default, not ours in any practical way. I am confident that the people of Montana can manage their own lands without Federal oversight.
Additionally, all lands must be thoroughly explored and evaluated in order to determine what geological features and assets are present. Only then can we properly determine how each area should best be managed. This seems like a simple starting point, but it is one that has been overlooked by both sides, without concern for the big picture. When it comes to the debate regarding resources vs. access, we must always put the needs of people first, and the people of Montana have many needs that require a balance of all interests.
In some cases it is impossible to eliminate the footprint of man on his environment, but if our activities are focused and directed with a balanced intent, I believe a beneficial outcome can be attained whereby the best of both worlds is achieved. I see a future with new developments, rising up from the wilderness, in perfect balance with nature. Rather than create pathways for animals to pass through civilized areas, we can establish developments that work in harmony with nature, preserving large areas indefinitely while accessing those resources necessary for the prosperity of the people.
We must allow resources to be extracted according to, and for the direct benefit of the people. In this way we can maximize the balance of functionality and preservation of our Public Lands. We can then guarantee that certain areas will be preserved for long term access, while others are utilized first for resource extraction that then serve to establish sites for future developments and long term housing, tourism and employment opportunities. All built utilizing the most modern methods and designs, minimizing the impact on the environment while providing for the long term needs of the people.
Simple solutions to simple problems are always the easiest to implement, and the issues concerning our public lands are no exception. With a little forethought, a solid plan and the motivation to act, all things are possible.