Montanans and other Westerners should take control of their future by adapting to changing times, Montana Gov. Marc Racicot told a conference Tuesday.
“I believe very strongly that Westerners can become the masters of our own future,” Racicot said in Kalispell, opening a national conference on sustaining the environment and rural communities.
Recalling that his grandfather was once a displaced Libby timber worker, Racicot told the conference his family adapted to changing economic conditions, as have thousands of other workers over the years. Montanans have learned to adapt and control their futures, he said.
“Many human lives have changed forever, dramatically,” as the timber industry has cycled downward, he said.
The industry is still an important economic force, Racicot said, “but in other ways, it has become a memory.”
The nature of Montana’s resource-rich landscape has created the state’s economy, he said, but Montanans have learned to adjust to changes.
Montanans have a strong desire for “openness and civility” on the part of government decision-makers and others who influence their lives, he said.
“We are tired of confrontation, stalemates and rhetorical grenades” in debating and deciding land-management policies, he said.
Racicot urged those at the conference to participate in democracy and seek solutions to common problems.