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.


Shared Dividends

Todd Wilkinson

The truth is there’s no example on Earth where conservation, over time, has not generated huge economic, social, cultural, ecological and spiritual dividends. Rural people get this. In Montana, our pride as a state is owed to how we work together across fencelines in a cooperative way. We respect private property rights while holding as holy our shared interest in public lands.

None of this is very complicated; it's not about us versus them;  it’s about who will best represent the kind of Montana values we cradle for our kids; it's about who absolutely, positively understands in their heart, mind and gut why public lands are a sacred part of being a Montanan. Fortunately, it’s also clear who we can trust. Conversely, it's obvious who the desperate people are who believe, arrogantly, they can buy elections, who will say or do anything to get elected, who tout alternative facts, and who, at the end of the day, will claim to stand behind public lands but we know they can't be trusted. They insist they will go to Washington, D.C. to drain the swamp but Montanans know such candidates aren’t genuine. Montanans are smart. We know who the candidate of true grit really is.

Todd Wilkinson is a writer in Bozeman, Montana.