Here we are again! The 2017 Montana Legislature will convene January 2nd in Helena. As we have since 1981, Montana Audubon will lobby on the front line at the Capitol in our efforts to protect birds, other wildlife, and their habitats. Amy Seaman, our Conservation Program Manager, will again act as our lead lobbyist with the help of a new legislative intern.
During the last (2015) Legislative session Montana Audubon testified on 68 bills, opposing 24 and supporting 44. Our efforts helped defeat 10 anti-environmental/anti-wildlife bills, and helped pass 20 bills aimed at strengthening our environmental and wildlife laws. We anticipate 2017 to be just as much work, and with so much on the table, we are going to need your help.
You can support our legislative work!
*As the legislature faces tough problems concerning wildlife and the environment we need as many conservationists and Audubon Chapter members as possible calling their Representatives and Senators to encourage them to vote responsibly. When local input is needed, Montana Audubon will contact you by email, explain the issue, explain how and why to take action, and let you know which legislators need encouragement.
We limit the use of the action alert program to the most critical issues, but they provide a powerful way to make our voice heard.
Sage-Grouse. Fully funding Montana’s Sage-grouse conservation program staff is a major issue in addition to securing specific authorization to spend the remainder of a $10M Sage-grouse stewardship fund.
Habitat Montana. In 2015, Montana legislators put restrictions on Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ (FWP) main habitat program, largely preventing them from purchasing new parcels. We want to remove this restriction that negatively affects wildlife.
Renewable Energy. We will be supporting at least one bill on the topic of Montanan’s generating their own electricity with alternative technologies like solar panels. It allows government buildings (including county courthouses and schools) to invest in solar systems large enough to save on future utility bills.
Colstrip. Global warming is the biggest environmental we face, threatening to greatly disrupt birds, other wildlife and human communities. Numerous pieces of legislation will be introduced on coal and Colstrip. Montana Audubon will help ensure solutions address climate change, and preserve our constitutional right to a “clean and healthful environment.”
Clean Water. Most of the controversy surrounding water rights focus on ‘exempt wells’ in residential housing developments. Montana’s Supreme Court recently ruled that future large subdivisions need to change the way they acquire water. Since subdivisions impact a variety of wildlife, we will focus on the numerous bills anticipated on this issue.
Wetlands. Montana legislators will be exploring whether to take over the federal program that allows wetlands to be filled for development (Section 404 of the Clean Water Act). State management of this permit program does not make sense for many reasons, so we will lobby to maintain federal control.
Please assist us with our efforts this year, and thank you!