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State preparing to buy Milk River ranch

Associated Press Modified: November 19, 2012 at 5:01 pm •  Published: November 19, 2012

But neighboring farmers and ranchers argued the state is paying too much and is pushing the plan through too quickly after first being publicly proposed earlier this year. Continued purchase of private land by the state sets a bad precedent, they said.

"To me, that is fast-tracking," said Robert Kaul, of Havre. "I don't believe that is fair to the people of Hill County. I don't think it is fair to the people of Montana."

Others argued the FWP portion of the deal gives more land to an agency that has struggled with weeds and other issues on its current holdings.

"We don't see a need for FWP to purchase more land when it can't pay for and maintain the land it currently has," said Jim Brown, and attorney for the Montana Woolgrowers Association.

Schweitzer argued that in the early 1900s, when the federal government proposed the creation of Glacier National Park, locals lined up opposed to it and argued it would harm the area economy.

"Go back to the Flathead today," Schweitzer said. "Find somebody who doesn't understand that Glacier National Park is now a national treasure."