Last year, the Wilks brothers opened access across their property to allow the public access to the Upper Missouri River Breaks Monument. It was a good-faith effort as part of a land exchange they were proposing to the BLM. Their proposal was a generous one—they were offering more acreage to the BLM, and property that had better public access (the public land they proposed to exchange for is only accessible by aircraft).
BLM has refused to negotiate this land exchange amid opposition from environmental groups. So in response, in an oped appearing today in the Great Falls Tribune, Farris Wilks has announced they will no longer allow access through their property to the Upper Missouri River Breaks. Mr. Wilks writes:
While we will close our gates in the coming days, we continue to stand ready to engage with the BLM and the interested public to craft an agreeable exchange that will provide permanent public access to the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument in the future.
It’s a disappointing trend that while Montana sportsmen are clamoring for increased access to public land, and landowners are making offers to increase access, the BLM is refusing to even consider the proposal.