By HDN Editorial Board
Gov. Judy Martz's request that Congress take up the issue of the Upper Missouri Breaks National Monument and remove the small amount of private land from within its boundaries is misguided.
Martz says she's trying to reach a compromise between the wants of the few property owners whose land falls within the monument boundaries and the majority of the people who have expressed an opinion on this subject and want the boundaries to remain as they are.
In an op-ed piece by Martz printed on this page, she makes several arguments. Each lacks logic.
She says the Bush administration, which originally brought up the issue of reconsidering the boundaries set by President Clinton before he left office early this year, doesn't have time to deal with such issues now, so she's asking Congress to take it up. Excuse us, but isn't Congress part of the same government that is now involved in an international war against terrorism. It seems that the wants of a few misinformed property owners in the Breaks would fall below Congress' radar screen as well.
Martz says she respects the views of the property owners, who, she said, should not be forced to have their land included in the boundaries. "I respect and appreciate their views," she writes. What Martz doesn't tell you is that their views are based on a misguided idea that they will lose some rights to use their land. That's not so. The designation signed by President Clinton didn't make their land a part of the monument. It only means that if they ever sell their land to the federal government, it would automatically become a part of the monument and not need a presidential declaration or act of Congress to be included. These property owners are essentially arguing that they don't trust the federal government. That's the same government that is sending our men and women into combat in foreign lands. Is that a view Martz wants to publicly support?
Martz also says, "Additionally, I will work closely with our congressional delegation to make sure that all private property rights are protected, and that those rights are unimpeded by the federal government." In order to do that, Martz will have to do absolutely nothing. Those private property rights are already protected and unimpeded.
Martz has already manipulated this issue enough to try to enhance her political reputation. She needs to put this issue down and let the country concentrate on what really matters.