Tag Archives: Rob Breeding

Rob Breeding: Americans like their public lands public

Lake in Flathead National Forest
Lake in Flathead National Forest

The Flathead Beacon has a persuasive op-ed by Rob Breeding concerning the public lands transfer movement . . .

So far 2017 hasn’t been a great year for those who want to transfer federal public lands to the states, beginning an inevitable process of turning these public lands over to private hands.

That may seem counter intuitive as the anti-public lands crowd is on the ascendancy politically. Sometimes in politics, however, it’s better to have an issue you can use to rally supporters and fuel fundraising campaigns, rather than be in a position to enact policy to change the situation you’ve been railing against.

So it goes for the opponents of public lands. After the 2016 election they seemed closer than ever to their goal. What these politicians don’t seem to get is the people they represent do not share their anti-public land zealotry.

There may be a bit of political buyers’ remorse here.

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Rob Breeding: Hanging by a thread

Rob Breeding talks about the importance of wildlife corridors by contrasting the Northern Rockies with the tenuous situation in California . . .

When we visit my hometown of Riverside, Calif., my daughters and I like to get some exercise running Mount Rubidoux, a semi-famous landmark in this part of the world. In the winter, especially when the smogless skies get an extra scrubbing from the Santa Ana winds, Mount Rubidoux offers unobstructed 360-degree views of Southern California’s Inland Empire.

You can’t quite see the Pacific from here, but that’s because the Santa Ana Mountains get in the way. Those mountains are where one of my old grad school profs, Paul Beier of Northern Arizona University, used radio collars to show how mountain lions use even the thinnest thread of connectivity to move between habitat islands created by encroaching suburbia. Even narrow culverts running beneath urban freeways are used by traveling wildlife.

On a clear day as I run I can see dozens of these habitat islands scattered across the Inland Empire. I distract myself from my workout by recreating in my mind the wildlife wonderland this natural landscape must have been before it became prime human habitat. I know there were valley quail everywhere, which is enough to get my attention.

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Rob Breeding: Land transfer is a road to ruin

Over at the Flathead Beacon, Rob Breeding doesn’t think much of this whole idea of devolving federal lands to state control . . .

If your goal is to destroy hunting there’s a clear path to follow: transfer ownership of federal lands to the states. It might take a couple decades, but if you put that ball in motion this is the inevitable result.

Maybe you think I’m exaggerating? Consider the opportunities federal lands offer hunters. Montana has large accessible tracts all over the state that we can enter, without need to seek permission, or the burden of entrance fees, to hunt.

Now imagine Montana without those resources. Understand that the real impetus behind the “transfer” movement is the eventual privatization of these lands. The states will never be able to afford to manage these properties, and once title is transferred to the state, the pressure to sell some or all of these lands will be overwhelming.

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Rob Breeding: Protecting the North Fork

Rob Breeding favors the North Fork Watershed Protection Act. He also likes visiting the North Fork, especially the part where he catches fish . . .

I read about the North Fork long before I visited. This was back in the early 1990s, soon after I’d moved to Montana. Newspaper accounts painted a picture of a wild place filled with interloping Canadian wolves, grizzly bears and unwashed hippies occupying Polebridge.

It sounded amazing.

Still, it was more than a decade before I made it to the North Fork, visiting for the first time shortly after I returned to Montana following a two-state sojourn living away. It was just a drive-by, a Sunday afternoon loop with the family up to West Glacier, then back to the valley via Camas Bridge and the North Fork Road. I remember looking down at the water on that drive and thinking I needed to be there. I needed to be on that river.

I now know well the spot that inspired my reverie…

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