MACo’s Public Lands Committee focuses on state and federal public land policies and believes in the most basic principle of early consultation, cooperation, and coordination with local county officials, as well as municipal and tribal officials.

Committee Policy Statements

Committee policy statements are a compilation of various issues and/or beliefs, which members have identified as major concerns and goals of county government. A “policy statement” provides guidance to staff, legislators, and the public on MACo’s position regarding possible legislation and/or issues that may arise during a legislative session and/or the Interim.

Public Lands Committee Policy Statements

  1. MACo believes the most basic principle that must be followed in all actions by state and federal agencies is early consultation, cooperation, and coordination with local county officials, as well as municipal and tribal officials, who have been elected to represent the concerns of those directly affected by public land management decisions within each official jurisdiction.
  2. MACo believes that environmental issues must be balanced with socioeconomic issues to achieve a policy, which allows not only a high degree of environmental protection, but also preserves and enhances local community sustainability. County officials and their constituents are keenly aware of the historical, economic, and aesthetic values of their local environment and they are certain of the need to prepare for a sustainable future to assure the viability of their communities. Therefore, it is imperative that the federal and state governments work cooperatively with county and other local governments on such policies.
  3. MACo supports natural resource planning and environmental management featuring site-specific management decisions made by local decision makers, local citizenry and parties directly and personally affected by environmental land and resource management decisions on our public lands.
  4. MACo believes that community stability and sustainability in natural resource-dependent communities is important and it is a high priority of MACo. This stability entails a broad range of concerns for the economic, social, and environmental well-being of community residents whose future is linked to decisions that are made about the nation’s natural resources.
  5. MACo believes that while protecting ecosystems, soils, waterways, plants and animals is important, so too is the protection of humans, economies and communities from destructive environmental practices.
  6. MACo believes human communities and economies deserve primary consideration when setting federal and state land policies.
  7. MACo opposes any federal legislation, including cap and trade legislation, if it imposes any new tax or fee, energy cost, or other financial burden on state and local governments, employers, and households.
  8. MACo strongly encourages the congressional delegation and the State Land Board to fully analyze the economic impacts on local governments with the cooperation and coordination of the affected counties before supporting any land transfers.
  9. MACo believes that federal and state real property holdings should be maintained at a minimum or no-net gain level.
  10. MACo supports the efforts of counties to ensure local government participation and Congressional action in the decision-making process surrounding the creation of proposed special-use designations. We support efforts to maintain and improve existing public land roads and access points, with adequate federal or state funding appropriated for that purpose.
  11. MACo opposes any state or federal agency allowing non-government organizations (NGO’s) to participate in any planning or proposed plan changes without equal representation from organizations with opposing views.
  12. MACo urges Congress to coordinate and cooperate with the county officials, of those affected counties, in decisions relating to the future designations of wilderness.
  13. MACo supports the release of all Wilderness Study Areas (WSA’s), which have been recommended or evaluated as not suitable for wilderness by the respective agencies and managed in accordance to the principles of the Multiple-Use Sustained Yield Act of 1960.
  14. MACo opposes the use of the Antiquities Act to create National Monuments, and MACo supports amending the Antiquities Act to clarify its actual intent, which is to establish small, discrete monuments or memorials, and MACo supports prohibiting the further extension or establishment of national monuments except by the express authorization of Congress and coordination with the support of state and local governments.
  15. MACo believes in state primacy in water resources administration, management and allocation.
  16. MACo opposes changing the definition in the Clean Water Restoration Act from “navigable waters” to “Waters of the U.S.”
  17. MACo believes that ditches, streets, and gutters should not be waters of the U.S. and also believes in retaining the definition of navigable waters in the Clean Water Act.
    [NOTE: This was implemented prior to the 2015 Clean Water Rule; On February 28, 2017, the President signed the “Executive Order on Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the ‘Waters of the United States’ Rule;” federal agencies are now embarking on another effort.]
  18. MACo believes that existing public land laws now provide for comprehensive and continuous oversight of the administration of mining, oil, gas, and coal industries, which are important for the economic well-being of public lands counties.
  19. MACo supports the philosophy of multiple-use management, which allows diversity of activities on public lands and results in the establishment of local economies based on these principles and practices.
  20. MACo supports the continued multiple use of all Montana’s rivers for hydropower generation, flood control, transportation, irrigation, recreation, fish and wildlife habitat and municipal and industrial uses.
  21. MACo supports the enhancement of a viable rangeland livestock industry as an essential component of Montana’s economy and is vital to affected communities.
  22. MACo supports management practices that enhance forest health and sustained harvest and provide for multiple use.
  23. MACo believes public lands should be managed in both an ecologically and financially sustainable manner providing a source of revenue to the Federal, State, and Local governments.
  24. MACo also believes that lands should be managed with consideration of the potential costs of remediation after a severe fire event.
  25. MACo supports the reorganization of Forest Service Management to reduce the layers of the organizational structure from four to three and supports clearly defining the Forest Service mission to encourage more “boots on the ground” projects.
  26. MACo supports the active management of noxious weeds on all county, state, federal, and tribal lands in Montana and recommends cooperative agreements and funding sources to implement said management.
  27. MACo opposes legislative efforts to allow for the permanent retirement of grazing permits through the buyout of grazing by non-ranching third parties.
  28. MACo supports livestock grazing on the Charles M. Russell Wildlife Refuge (CMR) at levels that sustain economically sound livestock operations and maintain the ecological health of the resource.
  29. MACo supports the designation of bison introduced into areas of the state not currently populated by bison as domestic livestock to be managed by the Montana Department of Livestock.
  30. MACo supports requiring regulation of bison by the Montana Department of Livestock to cross county lines.
  31. MACo supports protecting communities, local businesses, and government from unnecessary restrictions due to listing of the Greater Sage Grouse under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), as MACo believes that the listing of the Greater Sage Grouse has absolutely no merit.
  32. MACo supports decisions to list species as threatened or endangered that are made through best available science with increased transparency, timely decisions with local participation through stakeholder collaboration and coordination with local governments.
  33. MACo believes that the ESA should recognize and allow consideration of predation of threatened or endangered species through predator impacts and natural events as well as consider the social and economic impacts to local economies before making any management decisions.
  34. MACo believes that the petitioning of species for listing or removing and revising critical habitat can be done only by the state-recognized wildlife management agency in which the native species in question exists or strong documentation that it historically existed in such state. Quantifiable recovery levels for delisting must be identified at the time of listing.
  35. MACo supports amending the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) requiring accountability and transparency of the expenditure of federal funds and limiting access to EAJA funds only to individuals, small businesses, and non-profit organizations that are directly and personally damaged through a federal action.
  36. MACo supports, on a basis equitable to both the Federal and local taxpayer, to provide for payments to compensate States and local governments for burdens created as a result of the immunity of Federal lands from State and local taxation; examples of payment programs include but are not limited to Refuge Revenue Sharing, Secure Rural Schools (SRS), Payment-in-Lieu-of-Taxes (PILT), Taylor Grazing, Bankhead-Jones, and the Taylor Grazing Act.
  37. MACo believes that additional payments should be made to counties for federal natural resource extraction and use due to additional impacts on local government services and infrastructure. Furthermore, MACo supports monetary compensation to counties for the lack of natural resource use or extraction when demand for the resource exists.
  38. MACo supports reducing the administrative fee allowance to 0.1% (1/10th of one percent) or $1,000,000, whichever is greater, for administrative costs for the Pittman – Robertson and Dingell – Johnson funds. If additional administrative fees are required by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), congressional approval would be required.
  39. MACo supports allowing for any such program developed to protect public health and safety of Montana waterways to be borne by those directly responsible for the potential contamination or introduction of aquatic invasive species in Montana.

Committee Members

  • Greg Chilcott, Co-chair, Ravalli County Commissioner
  • Todd Devlin, Co-chair, Prairie County Commissioner
  • Brad Abell, Flathead County Commissioner
  • Jerry Bennett, Lincoln County Commissioner
  • Bill Berg, Park County Commissioner
  • Scott Blain, Carbon County Commissioner
  • Dean Blomquist, Golden Valley County Commissioner
  • Kevin Braun, Fallon County Commissioner
  • Ross Butcher, Fergus County Commissioner
  • John Carnahan, Phillips County Commissioner
  • Bruce Christofferson, Phillips County Commissioner
  • John Fahlgren, Valley County Commissioner
  • J.P. Gallagher, Butte-Silver Bow County Chief Executive
  • Charles (Chuck) Hinkle, Granite County Commissioner
  • Lee Humbert, Daniels County Commissioner
  • Mike Huotte, Anaconda-DL County Commissioner
  • Miles Hutton, Blaine County Commissioner
  • Craig Iverson, Petroleum County Commissioner
  • Laurie Johnston, Mineral County Commissioner
  • Christine Keltner, Prairie County Commissioner
  • Cory Kirsch, Jefferson County Commissioner
  • Josh Letcher, Lincoln County Commissioner
  • Mikel Lund, Daniels County Commissioner
  • Scott MacFarlane, Gallatin County Commissioner
  • Rem Mannix, Powell County Commissioner
  • Mike McGinley, Beaverhead County Commissioner
  • Sigrid Pugrud, Petroleum County Commissioner
  • Debbie Randolph, Broadwater County Commissioner
  • Tom Rice, Beaverhead County Commissioner
  • Dan Sager, Powell County Commissioner
  • Carl Seilstad, Fergus County Commissioner
  • Rodney Tauck, Carter County Commissioner
  • Sandy Youngbauer, Fergus County Commissioner
  • Kellieann Morris, MT Weed Control Association Rep., Ravalli County