Montanans are blessed with a wealth of natural resources and a deep agricultural tradition. We delight in the great open spaces and the big sky. We talk about the mountains, and the almost unreasonable ease with which we can access them.
What we voice far less often is how it’s all possible. These opportunities exist in large part because of our history of thoughtful land stewardship, both private and public. It’s a history that is our duty to uphold and to preserve. We face the challenge of budgetary constraints in preserving land and water and engaging our generation to care.
As a rock climbing, moose-lovin,’ nature-craving trail user in the Gallatin Valley, I say it’s high time for a frank conversation if we are to continue to enjoy what we hold dear. Our open and public spaces are not a given, we must proactively conserve and maintain them. Throughout this process, I would like to see us talk not only about our values and desires but about the intentions and emotions driving those who have alternate definitions of what open and public space looks like. If we are to have fruitful discourse, it should include the viewpoints and values that might be dissimilar to our own, which all lend to the unique character of Montana. We can find solutions to preserve our outdoor heritage that represent common ground.