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MT Conservation Organization Weighs in on Land Board Races

Montana Conservation Voters is supporting candidates who will sit on the Land Board that favor protecting public lands. (Montana Conservation Voters)
Montana Conservation Voters is supporting candidates who will sit on the Land Board that favor protecting public lands. (Montana Conservation Voters)
March 3, 2020

HELENA, Mont. -- Montana Conservation Voters has released candidate endorsements for a state board key to public lands in the hopes of securing a conservation-minded majority.

The State Board of Land Commissioners, also known as the Land Board, decides on issues that affect state-owned public lands. It's made up of five members holding statewide offices, including governor and attorney general. MCV executive director Aaron Murphy said support for protecting public lands was critical for their endorsement.

"Public lands are part of a $7 billion-per-year outdoor recreation economy," Murphy said. "So we're not just talking about conservation issues, we're talking about strengthening our economy."

MCV also looked for candidates to acknowledge the threat of climate change and the importance of clean air, water and abundant wildlife. The organization is backing Bryce Bennet for secretary of state, Shane Morigeau for Montana state auditor and Melissa Romano for Montana superintendent of schools.

Murphy said the Montana Conservation Voters Action Fund will be supporting these candidates in the race. He said as a nonpartisan organization, MCV isn't concerned with a candidate's party label, but where they stand on conservation issues.

"If we can do our part in making sure all Montanans understand that some candidates don't care about our public lands - even if they say they do, their record might show otherwise - we have a responsibility to ensure that Montanans understand the facts and make their decisions based on those facts," he said.

A recent Colorado College poll showed Montanans factor in the environment when choosing a candidate. The survey found 84% of respondents said issues involving clean air, water, wildlife and public lands are important when deciding who to support.

Disclosure: Montana Conservation Voters & Education Fund contributes to our fund for reporting on Environment. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - MT