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Rehberg bill could have far-reaching consequences


I am writing in regard to a very controversial bill co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg of Montana. It is the "National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act — HR 1505 — which would give the Department of Homeland Security far-reaching and unchecked authority over our public lands under the guise of national security.

DHS has not asked for this legislation. In fact both DHS and the U.S. Border Patrol have publicly stated this type of unrestrained authority over public lands is unnecessary for DHS to accomplish its goals.

Due to its far-reaching and intrusive scope — within 100 miles of our borders — the legislation could potentially impact all users of the Departments Interior and Agriculture: national wildlife refuges, BLM, National Park Service, tribal lands and national forests.

If this legislation passes, the U.S. Border Patrol will have unchecked power to block access to leased public rangelands, run roughshod over ranching operations and will have little incentive to work with landowners, ranchers, farmers and their communities. This could mean the end of collaboration and cooperation with these entities.

Glacier National Park could be impacted by a road running along its northern border adjacent to Waterton National Park in Alberta, thus greatly affecting the wildness of both parks.

The Sweetgrass Hills, an essentially roadless area beloved by ranchers, hikers, local residents and Native Americans for its excellent grazing, its remoteness and its unspoiled beauty, could be impacted.

I respectfully ask Rep. Rehberg to take another look at this over-reaching and dangerous bill.

Arlo Skari



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