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Another traitor to public lands has joined the ranks of Daines and Tester. Greg Gianforte calls his latest bill “local access to public lands,” yet in 2009, he filed a complaint to bar locals from a public fishing access near his land. For Gianforte, it boils down to which “locals” and what land.

Ending protections for Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) so “locals” can have access is a complete farce. Locals have always had access to WSAs. Extractive and destructive industries a.k.a. Gianforte’s campaign donors do not. Most locals understand that removing protections would thwart our access. When was the last time you were welcomed into logging or mining project areas?

Everyone can enter WSAs on foot or horseback to hunt, fish and enjoy pristine beauty. Without protections, WSAs are open to destructive activities that destroy fishing, hunting and precious, clean drinking water.

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Wilderness protections safeguard Montana’s heritage. The best way to protect the benefits locals enjoy from these lands is to prevent their sale to the highest bidder. Gianforte’s betrayal is double fold. He is not representing Montana or local access to public lands. Seems he’s working to make Montana more like his former home state of New Jersey.

—Michele Dieterich, Hamilton

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