Guest editorial: Dwindling state budget can't cover federal-land transfer costs

A recent news story revealed that the federal government spent more than $2.7 billion (yes, that’s billion, folks, with a “b”) to fight wildfires during the 2017 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 1. Montana itself has spent in excess of $400 million to cope with this year’s disastrous fire season.

The final tally for the federal government, Montana and other western states is still to come in, and fires continue to burn as we enter fall. This raises a question for those who have so stridently advocated that states assume federal public lands “management”: If our legislature and governor are struggling to pay our state fire costs for this year and balance the budget, where would we be if we also were responsible for the care and protection of the many federal lands that also went up in flames this summer?  

The issue is yet another in an already long, long list of legal, scientific and philosophical questions that serves to underscore the short-sighted and ill-conceived  nature of efforts by those who strive to transfer federal lands to state ownership.

Montana Sportsmen Alliance:
John Borgreen, Great Falls
Steve Schindler, Glasgow
Jeff Herbert, Helena
Sam Milodragovich, Butte
Joe Perry, Conrad
JW Westman, Park City
Robert Wood, Hamilton