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It will likely take donations to help the Twin Cities recover from damage by looters; and state and local governments look for relief in next stimulus bill.

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Democrats and Republicans have had drastically different responses to President Trump's militarized response to protests in the nation's capital. And, new electoral maps will be drawn next year, some by legislatures and others by outside entities.

Poll: MT Hunters Disapprove of Acting BLM Director Pendley

Well over three-quarters of Montana hunters are concerned with William Perry Pendley's job as acting BLM director, according to a new poll. (Bob Wick/Bureau of Land Management)
Well over three-quarters of Montana hunters are concerned with William Perry Pendley's job as acting BLM director, according to a new poll. (Bob Wick/Bureau of Land Management)
March 16, 2020

HELENA, Mont. -- Montana hunters are wary of the direction of the Bureau of Land Management, according to a new poll.

While nearly 60% of respondents to the Montana Wildlife Federation poll say they support the job President Donald Trump is doing, nearly 80% say they're either "very" or "somewhat" concerned about William Perry Pendley, Trump's acting director of the Bureau of Land Management.

Alec Underwood, federal conservation campaigns director for the Montana Wildlife Federation, says hunters are worried Pendley could limit public lands access.

"There's a lot of concern amongst hunters of his conflicts of interest, and his history of advocating for the privatization or transfer of public lands," Underwood states.

Pendley was appointed acting director of the BLM by Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, but has yet to receive congressional approval to lead the agency.

Along with concern over Pendley's leadership, the poll also shows evidence that hunters are skeptical of the administration's energy-dominance initiative.

Some 60% say the amount of land prioritized for oil and gas development should be kept the same or decreased.

Underwood maintains this speaks to Montanans' desire to protect the places where they hunt and fish.

"When it comes to the policies that are wasteful -- not only with taxpayer monies, but comes with opportunity costs as well -- I think that's where you see those strong numbers against those type of policies," he states.

The poll also brings up the issue of noncompetitive oil and gas drilling leases, where land can be sold for as low as $1.50 per acre, which is the cost of the filing fee.

The poll notes in the past decade, one-quarter of public acreage has been sold this way. Two-thirds of respondents say they disapprove of this practice.

Aubrey Bertram, eastern Montana field director for the Montana Wilderness Association, believes she knows why.

"They know who's getting the raw end of the deal with these practices," she states. "And it's not oil and gas executives. It's Montana public lands users, and it's Montana communities."

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - MT