By HDN Staff
Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt finished his recent two-day visit to the Missouri Breaks Wednesday with a promise not to walk away. The interior secretary said he thinks a new management plan is needed to address the future of the 149-mile stretch of the Breaks between Fort Benton and U.S. 191. He said the plan should be formalized either by presidential proclamation or preferably congressional legislation. Babbitt wants to have a plan in place before he leaves office Jan. 20.
What's the rush? The Breaks were there long before Babbitt, or Lewis and Clark, for that matter. This is too big a matter for Montana to be decided as part of a lame duck president's agenda.
We agree with the secretary that there should be a plan in place. However, any plans for the Breaks ought to come from congressional legislation, and the plan must originate in Montana. Our congressional delegation must come to a consensus based on the wishes of their constituents. Citizens from all over the country enjoy the Breaks, however, any plan will affect Montanans year round.
It may be difficult for folks from Washington D.C. to believe the inhabitants who live along the Missouri River care about the Breaks. Montanans value scenic beauty as much or more than anyone. We also respect our neighbor's property and expect them to be treated fairly. There will be tough decisions needed if any plan is put in place. We believe those decisions must originate at home.