Over the past few months, we’ve met with hundreds of locals about No on Ref 1.

One thing that is clear is that everyone cares deeply about Park County. They love the open space and knowing their neighbors. They love the river and the wildlife.

But they’re afraid of how fast it’s changing, and how fast it’ll continue to change. 

They’re afraid of sprawling development and how that’ll fragment elk habitat and lead to more traffic on the roads. 

They know the price of land has risen. They’re worried about what they can do with their own property if they need to make money in the future. They’re also worried about paying their property tax bill. 

They’re worried about whether their kids will be able to live here. They’re worried about what Park County might look like when their kids have kids of their own. 

So it’s no surprise that a recent poll by the University of Montana found 62 percent of people reported their quality of life had declined in the past five years.

The poll conducted by a team of republican and democratic pollsters said people are worried about growth happening too fast, sprawling subdivisions and the changing character of the state. 

We’ve heard those same concerns over and over again.

But instead of losing hope, we are inspired. 

 We think Park County is worth fighting for. And that we — not out-of-state developers — know what’s best to maintain our quality of life. That’s why the Growth Policy is so important. 

 We know the sheriff and the public works director, and we know they aren’t wasting our tax dollars. We know they’re overwhelmed, as we all are, by the millions of people coming here every year, driving on our roads and calling 911 when they have a problem. They’re being stretched thin, as we all are, by how much everything costs. 

 We need a common sense road map for the future. Developers see Park County and their eyes light up at the prospect of making money. 

 But we see Park County and we see our neighbors. We see people who don’t want to live next to an industrial scale gold mine, a glamping resort or a tire dump. We see people who have worked hard to make it here, and who don’t want their property rights trampled on by other people. We see people who hunt, fish and admire the sandhill cranes, pronghorn antelope and bald eagles, and think that’s what makes it worth living here.

 We all know Park County is changing, but we aren’t giving up. We are fighting to maintain everything that makes it worth living here.

 Colin K Davis, Treasurer

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