During the 2013-2014 session of the Montana State Legislature, a joint resolution  (S.J. 15) passed, setting up a bipartisan committee to study how well public land was being managed by the federal government in the state of Montana.

As part of that study, a survey was sent out to every county in Montana that has more than 15 percent of its land under federal management. Committee Chair Senator Jennifer Fielder says the results of the survey were surprising.

"We were very surprised at the strong trends that we found across the state of Montana," said Montana State Senator (SD. 7) Jennifer Fielder. "I knew we had problems in northwest Montana with the way the forest service was managing the land, but I was very surprised to see the incredibly strong trends with federal land management problems across the state of Montana."

Fielder and other Montana representatives just returned from a meeting in Utah with legislators from eight other Western states who are also discussing ways to ensure better management of federal lands. The meeting gave lawmakers from various states a unique perspective into the issues surrounding federal management.

"What we were able to do at that meeting was exchange information with representatives of other states who were actively trying to resolve federal land management problems within their states," Fielder said. "It was an excellent opportunity to exchange information and to discuss where we might go from here."

Fielder said legislators in Utah discussed the possibility of interstate compacts and other forms of coordination.

The Montana study committee will bring its proposed solutions to federal management problems to the next legislative session and is currently studying which types of actions should/could be taken.



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