BILLINGS, Mont. — Public lands advocates in Montana have launched a campaign to protect wilderness study areas in response to a Republican lawmaker’s push to remove the federal designation from five sites.

Organizers of the Our Land, Our Legacy campaign announced Monday that they will be running newspaper advertisements across the state as they seek to protect the sites from changes.

Montana Sen. Steve Daines in December introduced a bill to remove more than 700 square miles (1,819 square kilometers) from the state’s wilderness study Areas.

Daines has said the five sites were improperly managed and should be opened to additional public uses.

They are the West Pioneer Wilderness Study Areas, Sapphire Wilderness Study Area, Middle Fork Judith Wilderness Study Area, Big Snowies Wilderness Study Area and the Blue Joint Wilderness Study Area.

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