What They’re Saying: Mike Cooney’s “Protect the Last Best Place” Plan to Protect Public Lands and Access

MONTANA— Yesterday, Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney and running mate Rep. Casey Schreiner released their “Protect the Last Best Place” plan to protect public lands and access in Montana. Below is a sampling of the coverage generated by the plan. 

YPRCooney Releases Public Lands Plan

“During a press conference July 14, Cooney said he would defend Montana’s public lands against politicians and powerful interest groups seeking privatization.

“Whether you can hike or hunt, bike or camp, doesn’t depend on the size of your check book. These lands belong to all of us,” he said.

Cooney says he advocates strengthening systems that promote access to public lands and streams otherwise inaccessible due to nearby private property. His plan supports expansion of Habitat Montana, a decades-old state program used to secure permanent conservation easements and wildlife management areas. It also calls for boosting Montana’s recreational economy, which generates $7.1 billion in annual consumer spending, with further investment in the state Office of Outdoor Recreation.

“It can be a moneymaker,” Cooney said.”

KTVQ NewsMike Cooney on Montana this Morning

“[Public lands] are who we are as Montanans… It’s really something like distinguishes me from my opponent, Mr. Gianforte. I’ve fought hard bringing results when it comes to Montana’s public lands, where Mr. Gianforte has taken some stands that have flown in the face of the best interests of public lands in Montana. He sued to keep Montanans from having access to the Gallatin River. He has voted in Congress and written legislation to take protection away from [nearly] 700,000 acres of land in Montana… Frankly, he doesn’t believe in the Montana values that we have here.”

Great Falls TribuneCooney unveils public land, access plan for state

“Cooney said his “Protect the Last Best Place” plan would help him to pass off an even-better Montana to the next generation.”

“…Cooney’s plan — which he said was developed through a diverse group of conservationists and wildlife groups, hunters, anglers, conservationists and public land owners — includes priorities for protecting Montana’s existing public land and stream access laws, increasing access to landlocked public land through easements, and bringing landowners and sportsmen and women together to strengthen Habitat Montana, the state’s premier access and conservation program.”

“…The choice in this election could not be more clear,” he said. “Protecting our public land, our clean air, our clean water and our way of life will be a top priority for my administration.”

KTVHCooney lays out public lands plan for state

“Cooney says there is a stark difference between him and his opponent Congressman Greg Gianforte in regards to public lands and their access.

“My opponent has taken a number of positions that fly in the face of those Montana values and are so important to everyone in Montana. My opponent had sued the State of Montana to prevent people from having access to a very popular fishing site on the Gallatin River. My opponent has voted and helped right legislation in Congress that stripped protections from over 700,000 acres of land in Montana,” said Cooney.

In 2009, a lawsuit was filed against Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks by a Gianforte owned company. The suit sought to remove an easement that provided public access along the East Gallatin River next to Gianforte’s property.”