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The Montana Hunters and Anglers have a new ad up this week. The ad says “with Dennis Rehberg in Washington it’s open season on Montana.”
In the Lee Newspapers report on the ad, Rehberg tried to run from key provisions of his bill, H.R. 1505, which would hand over control of Montana land within 100 miles of the Canadian border to the Department of Homeland Security.
A Rehberg staffer tried to claim that Rehberg had added language to the bill to make sure that the Department couldn’t restrict hunting. However, the bill specifically provides the authority to Homeland Security to close roads–which would obviously allow them to block hunters and anglers from Montana public lands.
Ten local sporting organizations this week asked Congressman Dennis Rehberg to host listening sessions on H.R. 1505, Rehberg’s an unpopular bill to restrict access to public lands within 100 miles of all United States borders.
It’s surprising that Rehberg would try to push such a controversial idea before the Montana public had a chance to weigh in.
There are a couple of theories out there on why Rehberg may be avoiding public input. One theory goes that Rehberg’s ultimate goal is the privatization of Montana hunting. Privatizing hunting land has already been done in other states–Texas is one. Rehberg has already come out in favor of other steps to privatizing hunting grounds like eliminating wilderness areas. If this is the plan, Rehberg’s avoidance of public input makes more sense. The other theory is that Rehberg just doesn’t like interacting with Montanans.
The groups calling on Rehberg to hold the listing sessions include: Libby Rod and Gun Club, Flathead Wildlife Incorporated, Park County Rod and Gun Club, Hellgate Hunters and Anglers, Ravalli County Fish and Wildlife Association, Helena Hunters and Anglers, Gallatin Wildlife Association, Headwaters Sportsmen’s Association, Russell Country Sportsmen and the Public Land and Water Access Association. The letter calling for the listening sessions can be downloaded here.
Montana hunters and anglers have many concerns about Rehberg’s bill. These include giving one federal agency supremacy over all other agencies, as well as what could happen in regards to access to public lands. H.R. 1505 puts an unprecedented amount of power into one federal agency, eliminating the public’s voice in how public lands are managed. Congressman Dennis Rehberg should gather input from real Montanans before this bill moves forward.
Tony Jones, President of the Ravalli County Fish and Wildlife Association said:
“More listening sessions mean more viewpoints from across Montana for Congressman Rehberg to hear as he decides if he will continue to co-sponsor this legislation. We feel it puts in jeopardy the long-standing outdoor heritage families and sportsman share in our state.”