Governor Bullock Rolls Out A Plan for Public Lands

Photo: Bullock 2020

Last Friday, in the midst of a snowstorm that dumped up to four feet of snow in some areas of Montana, Governor Steve Bullock announced the second major policy proposal of his Presidential campaign, a policy on public lands management and ownership.  Bullock’s plan has three main principles:  (1) tackling climate change; (2) honoring our heritage of public land ownership by restoring and increasing public lands; and (3) making sure that all Americans get a fair shot at enjoying the opportunities that public lands provide.

Why This Matters:  As a western governor whose state consists of some of the nation’s most beloved and beautiful national parks, Bullock is in a good position to speak to the issue of whether the federal government should own and should conserve (rather than develop) more land.  The federal government’s ownership of large swaths of land in the west is the subject of some controversy in the west, and it is difficult for candidates from the urban areas and the coasts to speak about these issues with credibility.  Bullock is uniquely positioned among the candidates to address issues like reclaiming and restoring 40,000 abandoned mine sites that sit on federal land that are impacting the health of surrounding communities, not to mention dragging down their economies.  And he rightly thinks about using federal lands as an example of how to reach net-zero emissions on those lands by 2030.

Planks in the Plan

  1.  Protect Public Lands  — Fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and fund the $20B in maintenance projects that are backlogged in the Interior Department and the Forest Service, and work with state and federal agencies to fund watershed resilience projects, which protect communities and the environment from catastrophic natural disasters such as wildfires, floods, droughts, and storm surges.
  2. Give Minorities and Tribes a “Fair Shot” At Access To and Management of Public Lands — Allow tribes to help manage public lands and recruit people of color for leadership positions, and increase the number of free entry days and keep entrance fees for parks low so in order to enhance access to parks by people of color.
  3. Tackle Climate Change — Support scientists at federal agencies – including the Interior Department (e.g., the US Geological Survey and the National Climate Change and Wildlife Center), Department of Agriculture (e.g., the U.S. Forest Service), the Department of Commerce (e.g., NOAA), NASA, and other agencies – in their research of climate impacts, and use public lands to achieve net-zero emissions by 2030, to sequester carbon, and to foster clean energy projects on public lands.

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