This is a column we’d love to rename Champs & Champs, but unfortunately, chumps abound, and we’d be doing you the people a disservice if we didn’t continue calling them out. Here’s another round of admirable acts and embarrassing blunders from around the Bozone.
Open-land conservation is valued by all here at O/B, so when Belgrade residents and longtime public-access advocates Tim Crawford and his wife Kathy Hansen Crawford were awarded a Montana Neighbor Award for commitment to conservation and community land involvement, our ears perked up. The Crawfords’ 360-acre plot along the East Gallatin went into a conservation easement with the help of the Gallatin Valley Land Trust 20 years ago, meaning the land will be maintained in its current agricultural state forever. While conserving a ranch for your own enjoyment is one thing, Crawford goes a step further. As many landowners across the state erect "No Trespassing" signs and block access to county roads and traditional access sites, the Crawfords encourage public use. The signs on the bridge that crosses the East Gallatin through their property read, “Welcome Anglers and River Users.” Bravo—you’re a good neighbors indeed.
Bozemanites are blessed with ample access to public land, much of it managed by the U.S. Forest Service. While we’d be hard-pressed to say that we agree with everything the Forest Service does, we certainly don’t want our public lands to go away. But one Bozemanite, former Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) executive director and current senior-fellow extraordinaire Terry Anderson, would have our national forest privatized. In an op-ed he wrote earlier this year, he sided with Sagebrush Rebellion wannabes who set fire to public lands on which they possessed grazing permits. Anderson pioneered the idea of “free-market environmentalism,” which apparently means more land for the rich and less access for the rest. While properly-incentivized landowners might practice environmentally sound management of their recreational empires, they block access, and that’s fine by him. Not by us though, Terry. For shame.