LEWISTOWN – Montana Congressman Greg Gianforte (R-MT) was in Lewistown earlier this week to hear comments on his bills to allow more uses on 700,000 acres of Wilderness Study Areas (WSA).
Rep. Gianforte’s bills would “release” this acreage from wilderness protections, and be open to motorized recreation, and possible multiple uses such as grazing, logging, and trail-building.
Those at the meeting included people from local government, livestock and other wilderness groups.
Most of the study areas in Rep. Gianforte’s bills are in western and central Montana and have been designated by federal officials as “unsuitable” for wilderness protection.
Some wildlife and recreation groups are urging Rep. Gianforte to get more public comment before moving ahead with the bills. The Republican says that’s what he’s doing – and why he held the hearing in Lewistown.
“There are many proposals about what to do with these WSAs. From one position, to release all of them, and another that would make them all wilderness," rep. Gianforte said. "The legislation that I proposed doesn’t really represent either extreme; it’s really down the middle. And I want to hear how this legislation can be improved.”
The bills had a hearing before a House Natural Resources subcommittee earlier this summer.