Once again, Montana State Senator Jennifer Fielder has proven that she is more interested in pats on the back from out-of-state extremists than the needs of Montanans. In her role as head of the American Lands Council, a non-profit dedicated to “unlocking” (read: selling off) federal lands primarily located in the western half of the U.S., she prioritizes the whims of oil companies and D.C. special interests over the preservation of public lands.
Now, the Trump administration seems to be rewarding her loyalty to big oil by signaling support for her scheme to allow states to buy back federal lands piece by piece and sell it off to private businesses. At the Western Conservative Summit in Denver, she said that her plan was well received and that “his [Trump’s] Administration has been great”. She also says, “They are working really hard to reduce federal regulations and transfer management authority to municipalities and local governments in different small-scale instances.”
Unfortunately, her plan, if it actually became a reality, would be disastrous for public access across the West. There would be no check and balance system to ensure that states are equipped to properly manage the land, or that the land will even stay public once the states get ahold of it.
This transparent plot to privatize public lands seems to be gaining traction in the White House, but that may be because Fielder is chummy with Ryan Zinke and the Trump boys rather than because of any actual good it could do.
According to Fielder:
“I have met President Trump one time. I have talked to his sons for a little bit longer. I know [Interior] Secretary Zinke fairly well. And I have talked to a number of people in his administration since he has been elected. And it’s been refreshing to walk in down there and go into the top offices and have a friendly reception. There’s a lot of good people in there now at the top. And we got to get a lot more confirmed so we can have the bosses running the show too.”
At this point it should probably be no surprise that a fellow public lands enemy would get a warm reception from Zinke and the Trump administration. We’ve already seen their disregard for national monuments like Bears Ears, and we know that they don’t plan to just stop there.