Beth Covitt

It’s clear that Senator Daines, with his latest bill to eliminate wilderness study area protections, is out of sync with the vast majority of Montanans.

The Montana Sportsmen Conservation Act (S. 2216) would strip protections from (return to general forest management) three wilderness study areas – Middle Fork Judith in the Little Belt Mountains south of Great Falls and Hoodoo Mountain and Wales Creek in the Garnet Range outside of Ovando and Helmville.

Who really wants S. 2216 to pass? Not most Montanans. In a 2022 poll conducted by the University of Montana, 72% of Montana respondents supported keeping or increasing protections in all of Montana's Wilderness Study Areas. Just 6% supported broadly eliminating Montana Wilderness Study Area protections.

While he likes to talk about the importance of locally driven solutions, Senator Daines has disregarded locals’ hard work around public lands protections, preferring to listen to a small sliver of special interest groups.

It's time for Senator Daines to stop forwarding bills with seemingly appealing names like “The Montana Sportsmen Conservation Act,” which hide true policy intent of stripping protections from the public lands that Montanans love.