HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Republican U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte and his Democratic challenger, Kathleen Williams, are bringing Gianforte’s proposal to release hundreds of thousands of acres from study for federal protection to the forefront of their race.

Gianforte and Williams held separate meetings Wednesday on the 29 places in Montana that have been designated Wilderness Study Areas for more than 30 years. Williams’ was in Missoula, and Gianforte’s was in Lewistown.

Logging, road building and other uses are restricted within wilderness study areas, and Gianforte says state and local leaders asked him to release those lands.

Gianforte deflected criticism that he introduced the bills without hearing from the public, saying there will be opportunity for the public to weigh in after the bills pass.

Williams said she held her meeting to give people a chance to be heard on the issue.

Recommended for you