By JESSE DEUBEL
AND FRANK SZOLLOSI
While Montana and New Mexico may have a lot of differences (especially during the winter months), our people are outdoors people and both states have a rich hunting heritage. For us personally, our families are blessed to bring wild fish and game to the table, and we take pride in teaching the next generation about the ethics and life lessons we are allowed to access while exploring our public lands.
Additionally, our states both have growing and important outdoor recreation economies. In Montana and New Mexico combined, the outdoor recreation economy supports well over $9.4 billion
in economic activity and well over 100,000 jobs.
That’s why Sen. Steve Daines delivered quite the head-scratcher when it comes to his plan to block Rep. Deb Haaland’s nomination to serve as Interior Secretary. Daines said he would block Haaland’s nomination because he thinks she has a “lack of appreciation for… wildlife management, hunting, and sportsmen access.” Time to set the record straight.
In Congress, Haaland has represented New Mexico well serving as the vice chair of the House Natural Resources Committee and the chair of the National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands subcommittee. She has stood up to efforts to shrink prime hunting grounds that are important to New Mexico’s sportsmen. In contrast, Sen. Daines has proposed legislation to remove protections on nearly half a million acres of Montana’s public lands without public comment with his Wilderness Study Area bill.
During her first term, Haaland racked up some important wins for hunters and anglers including helping to usher the Great American Outdoors Act into law, along with working to pass America’s Conservation Enhancement Act. Together with other efforts to improve public access to public lands, she’s fought to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund while addressing the maintenance backlog on our public lands. She’s also carried legislation to improve and promote access to public lands for our service members and veterans.
Recall, Daines offered no such concerns when a former oil and gas lobbyist, David Bernhardt rose to the helm of the Department of Interior. Over the last four years, leaders at the Department of Interior and the Bureau of Land Management have worked to sell off our public lands and natural resources to their friends and former industry clients. Daines said nothing.
Yet, with Rep. Haaland, who has an actual track record of fighting for sportsmen — he is going to block her nomination. Instead of making up a false resume for Rep. Haaland, Sen. Daines should be rolling up his sleeves to work together with her to improve access to our public lands and to actually fight for our outdoor recreation economy.
It makes you wonder: who is Sen. Daines actually representing?
Jesse Deubel, New Mexico Wildlife Federation and Frank Szollosi, Montana Wildlife Federation, both serve as Executive Directors
Bozeman Daily Chronicle Guest Editorial 2/21/21