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It is not surprising that tourism and outdoor recreation have surpassed agriculture as the number one revenue resource for Montana. Montana has the potential for the top two economic drivers to be industries that are ultimately sustainable.

These industries require natural infrastructure: pristine, natural wild land with clean rivers and streams and protected watersheds; agricultural land that is balanced with our ecosystem; ergonomic and efficient transportation systems for easy access to markets, which in turn promote preservation of agricultural land. It is irresponsible to dismantle what little remains of undeveloped and wild land and short sighted to not encourage sustainable agricultural land use. Furthermore, these top revenue drivers should be expanded wherever possible.

I hear Senator Steve Daines, Congressman Ryan Zinke and candidate Greg Gianforte calling for a return to the “good ole’ days” of natural resource extraction as the main driver of our economy. I believe this direction presents a great threat to Montana’s future. There is definitely a role for natural resource extraction, but that must be accomplished without polluting or sacrificing our natural ecosystem. Natural resource extraction industries will never be nor should be the biggest players in the economy of Montana.

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Politics are local. Look at the costly mistakes the Ravalli County Commissioners have made in their unrealistic quest to support one or two segments of the valley’s economy – the Legacy Ranch, the Lords Settlement, Upper Woodchuck Road as well as the Grantsdale Addition and Blood Lane proposals. Not to mention the Stamey fiasco and the Road Dept. debacle. Promoting growth without a growth policy and weakening planning regulations demonstrate this commission’s lack of leadership. Manage federal lands? Who are they kidding? They can’t manage the county! I am voting for Big Dave Smith for Ravalli County Commissioner.

Being a third generation Montanan I have known the Smith family since before Dave Smith was born, and have known him since he was knee high to a grasshopper. Big Dave is a family man, independent contractor, outdoorsman, and farmer-rancher. He has always been fair, honest, balanced and sensible. He is not tied to any special interest. The Bitterroot needs a commissioner with vision. Big Dave Smith is a welcome change for now and into the future. Vote for Big Dave Smith for maintaining our quality of life in the Bitterroot Valley and Montana.

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