Congressman Steve Daines today condemned the Bureau of Land Management's refusal to extend comment periods for proposed Billings and Pompeys Pillar, Miles City, and Hi-Line Resource Management Plans (RMPs). Daines noted that the length of the comment periods, which end in June, is insufficient, given that the current plans fail to take into account sufficient input from area residents.
"The Bureau of Land Management's refusal to allow Montana residents even a few more weeks to offer their opinions about these plans is disappointing," Daines stated. "Montanans must have an active voice in the management of our state's resources. Moving forward with a management plan that lacks sufficient public input not only shows poor judgment on the BLM's part, but hold serious implications for the affected communities. I strongly urge the BLM to reevaluate this decision and allow Montanans additional time to review these plans and offer their ideas about how the resources in their communities should be managed."
The Billings and Pompeys Pillar, Miles City, and Hi-Line RMPs have recently come under scrutiny by area residents, due to the potential impact that the plans could have on economic development in the affected regions.
Daines noted that the three RMPs could significantly affect economic and resource development of the communities dependent upon energy production in the Williston Basin oil reserves. Additionally, the RMPs cover a significant portion of Montana's grazing lands and could have serious implications for livestock management in those regions. The RMPs also cover significant portion of lands where many Montanans and nonresidents enjoy outdoor recreation--riding off-road vehicles, hunting, and shooting, among other activities.
Daines recently requested that Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell extend the comment period, noting the lack of public support for the current plans. Montana Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester also requested extensions.
"Many of my constituents, including resource developers, ranchers, County Commissioners and others, have expressed concerns regarding the Billings and Pompeys Pillar, Miles City, and Hi-Line Resource Management Plans proposed by the Bureau of Land Management," Daines wrote in a letter sent to Jewell last week. "As Montana's Representative, I consider input from local Montanans who rely on our public lands for their livelihoods to be critical and I support their efforts."