Bill Thackeray’s recent view expressed in the Opinion Page of the Havre Daily News brought up some interesting points. The article inspired me to bring them to print.
First of all I know every one of the farmers and ranchers who have closed their land to hunting over this issue. They are all good neighborly people who had views on this sale. They were not jealous of the price, and the ones I know just want to make a living doing what they love to do. They tried to exercise their rights as residents of this state in voicing that opinion. While two meetings were held they could have just as well stayed home, as this decision was made long before the meetings began. Sad day for the process to say the least.
So why are they so upset over this issue? They know all too well what is going to happen come hunting season when hunters unfamiliar with the ranch show up to hunt. As soon as the ranch is open to mass public hunting the game will be in Canada or anywhere they can get to avoid the pressure. Public access is by foot. and for the good hunters they will welcome that hunt. The weekend hunters who want to merely drive around and shoot something out the window will want no part of hunting there. His or her next step will be a drive around the area to find something to shoot. Every rancher farm near there knows this will affect his property. FWP had no answers for these questions, nor did they have any solutions.
When land is bought for four times its value, FWP's bank account is broke. The weeds that will be brought in from hunters in other areas will be spread to this ranch. Then the neighbors will all have something to do on Sunday, search their ground for any new weeds species.
The four times the value paid for the land is now in place. No farmer or rancher could pay that pay for the land. But now due to this sale at this inflated price the piece of land he rents or young people trying to start in agriculture are going to face the fact that people selling land in the area are going to want that value.
So let’s follow the facts here and see how this all happened. This purchase was ordered by the governor’s office down. It was last on the list of proposed purchases made available to FWP and was jumped to number one. Throughout this entire process the only one person on the FWP board voted against the sale. Shows all of Montana the political courage of the people involved in this sale. When political debts are incurred in politics they sometimes get paid. This one was one huge mistake both in price and value to the wildlife of Montana and the hunting public of Montana.
If this is how the system is going to work it is going to be a long day for FWP and landowner relations. The road to healing these relations is courage. Show some courage and stand up for what process is in place. For FWP personnel to heal this situation, the author of this view wants to see them stand up in public and tell the Montana rancher and farmer that this will never happen again and they will fight to the finish to see it doesn't.
The farmers and ranchers have taken a stand here. They were given no choice. Now let’s see if FWP has the courage to take a stand and start to heal this situation. Is there more than the one who voted against this sale with courage to stand up for what is right?
(Larry Johnson lives in Kremlin.)