Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - Montana Governor Greg Gianforte, long a proponent of protecting and enhancing public lands, held a press conference on Thursday that centered on the efforts by his administration to accomplish those goals.

Gianforte began by praising the state Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.

Gianforte Touted Legislative Successes Involving Public Lands

“When I took office, I charged the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation with increasing the pace and scale of forest management,” began Governor Gianforte. “We set an ambitious goal in 2021 to more than double the number of acres treated by the state in just that first year. DNRC got it done. In 2022 we set another ambitious goal for forest management, and DNRC got it done again.”

Gianforte continued by stating a message he used throughout his campaigns, ‘keeping public lands in public hands.’

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Gianforte; 'Keeping Public Lands in Public Hands'

“We've been able to chalk up so many wins, because our mission is clear,” he said. “Number one, keep public lands in public hands; number two, increase access to our public lands; and thirdly, listen to the voices of the local communities in all land decisions that we make. I think most Montanans would agree with this mission. We stand together to protect our public lands for future generations.”

Gaining public access to private lands means cooperation with local sportsmen’s organizations, as Gianforte mentioned during the press conference.

“I want to particularly note the work that the Montana Outfitters and Guides are doing, working in conjunction with the Montana Citizens Elk Management Coalition,” he said. “Together they have put forward a package of bills for sportsmen, outfitters and landowners,” he said. “One of those bills is Senate Bill 58, carried by Senator Steve Heimbach. His bill doubles the cap on payments to landowners who open their land up to hunters through FWP’s (Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks) block management program.”

Gianforte and the First Lady met with Business Owners near Public Lands

Gianforte also provided a personal note about recently meeting with a business owner adjacent to public lands.

“Yesterday, I had a chance to visit this family run operation along with the First Lady,” he said. “Owners Monica and Jay Winfield told me how nearby public lands support their business they said adjacent the adjacent WMA (Wildlife Management Area) is fantastic. That was the word they used for their business, offering hunting in the fall, snowmobiling and cross country skiing in the winter, and hiking all summer long.”

Management projects have included mechanical treatments, such as thinning or logging, prescribed fire, and forest restoration.

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