Ravalli commissioners will keep listening on Wilderness Study is - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Ravalli commissioners will keep listening on Wilderness Study issue

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HAMILTON - Ravalli County commissioners won't revoke a letter of support for a bill calling for five tracts in Montana to be released as Wilderness Study Areas.

But the board says they'll continue to welcome public input as they monitor the progress of the legislation that's being sponsored by Senator Steve Daines.

Commissioners faced hundreds of people this week as they agreed to take comment on a letter supporting the Daines bill, which they'd already written a few months ago. Most were critical of the proposal to lift the Wilderness Study Area designation for some forest lands, including the Sapphire and Blue Joint WSA's on the Bitterroot National Forest.

However, some told the board that, after 40 years, it was time for the lands to be released and returned to normal National Forest Status.

Commissioners opted to leave the letter in place, but say they'll continue to listen to input on the WSA issue.

And Commissioner Jeff Burrows says its "false" to say the board's letter was developed without any public input.

"We kind of went though the normal process we go through. And so I think there was a little bit of mis-information on that. And we kind of heard that over and over again that we didn't take public comment or allow public input into our decision on the letter. And that was just untrue," Burrows said.

And Burrows says the county's Collaborative Committee is welcome to work on the Wilderness Study Area question, and the Daines bill, independently and provide additional input to the commissioners.

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