Montana has a long tradition of listening to and respecting — revering — its writers and the state’s literary tradition. In an unprecedented show of unity, more than forty of Montana’s best writers have gathered, in rapid response fashion, to write original essays and testimonials advocating for the protection of our public lands, and endorsing Democratic House of Representatives candidate Rob Quist’s position on this (literally) most common ground of issues. Please vote on May 25.

Stealing Mountains

James Lee Burke

Conservation science and the establishment of public lands are American traditions that go back to Teddy Roosevelt. The fact that our representatives in Montana are toying with the notion of transferring them into private hands is mind-numbing. The fact that these men pretend to be serving our interests is disgusting.

This isn’t a political issue. Democrat, Republican, Independent, unreconstructed Confederate, it’s doesn't matter. This is our country; our national parks and wilderness areas comprise the most beautiful landscape on earth. Within fifteen minutes, we can enter forests that are like the first day of Creation. Why in the name of suffering God would anyone in his right mind want to transfer such a treasure into the hands of people who wish to exploit it for personal gain?

I don’t think Donald Trump is a political entity but a sociopath. He’s a sick and self-deluded man who at some point will probably be impeached. The people who use him are to my mind much more corrupt than he. They protect him in order to pursue their own agenda, which is to steal everything they can get their hands on.

There is no mystery to the human personality. People are what they do. A lying son of a bitch is a lying son of a bitch. Right now we’ve got these babies in spades. I’d hate to tell my grandchildren I stood by while they stole the most beautiful mountain ranges and rivers and lakes in the entire world.

James Lee Burke is a writer who lives on a ranch southwest of Missoula.

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