WHITEFISH, Mont. -

Congressman Denny Rehberg has proposed a land swap to keep a controversial statue from being moved off Big Mountain in Whitefish.

The statue of Jesus has sat on a piece of Forest Service land for more than 50 years. Now forest officials are considering pulling the statue after a group called the Freedom From Religion Foundation complained that it violates the separation of church and state.

Under the plan, Whitefish Mountain Resort would trade a similar plot of land to the forest in exchange for the land the statue sits on.

FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor says Rehberg?s proposal is political grandstanding, but Bill Glidden, Grand Knight of the Kalispell Knights of Columbus says the proposal makes sense.

Rehberg?s draft bill can be found at www.veteransjesus.com.

Also today, the Forest Service opened the public comment period on whether to remove the statue. Comments will be accepted up to December 8.

Comments can be emailed, mailed or faxed. Emails can be sent to comments-northern-flathead-tally-lake@fs.fed.us with the subject line ?Knights of Columbus Special Use Permit Reauthorization Project?. Mailed comments can be addressed to Project Leader Derek Milner, Tally Lake Ranger District, 650 Wolfpack Way, Kalispell, MT 59901, and faxes can go to (406) 758-5367.