AG, governor don’t agree on Land Board’s role in easements

HELENA (AP) — Montana’s attorney general disagrees with the governor on whether the state Land Board has to approve conservation easements.

In a draft opinion issued late last month, Attorney General Tim Fox said Gov. Steve Bullock was wrong to allow the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks to purchase a $6.1 million easement in eastern Montana after the Fish and Wildlife Commission approved it. The Land Board had voted to indefinitely delay action on the easement near Glendive.

State law requires the Land Board to approve “land acquisitions” worth more than $100,000.

The governor’s office responded that the Land Board does not have to approve easements because the state is not acquiring any land.

The Independent Record reports Fox is expected to issue a final opinion in the coming weeks. It carries the weight of law unless a court overturns it.