We’re nearing the home stretch at the legislative session…but there is still important work to be done! There are important opportunities to support habitat conservation and responsible wildlife management this week in Helena. Please make a call or send a message today!
With help from Montana Audubon members and our conservation partners, we defeated an attempt to fundamentally change the emphasis of the Habitat Montana program from habitat conservation to public access. Now we need to get Habitat Montana across the finish line by ensuring that its funding remains intact and its programs are fully authorized.
Now more than two decades old, Habitat Montana is one of our state’s greatest conservation success stories. It allows the state to cooperate with private landowners to conserve important habitat that benefits Montana’s wildlife. Funded primarily by out-of-state licenses, the program costs Montana taxpayers nothing while helping to maintain abundant game and nongame species.
Funding for Habitat Montana is contained within HB 5, the state’s budget bill. It has a hearing scheduled for TOMORROW, Thursday, April 6th. Please call (406) 444-4800 during business hours or email the Senate Finance and Claims Committee and ask them to support funding and full authorization for Habitat Montana!
Along with our wildlife conservation partners, defeating this bill is of prime importance. SB 236 contains language that could seriously complicate wildlife management in Montana, including the ability of wildlife managers to regulate hunting, fishing, and trapping activities through licenses, seasonal restrictions, quotas and bag limits, and other regulations currently in place. This bill is sponsored by Sen. Jennifer Fielder (R-Thompson Falls), who claims it is intended to preserve Montana’s outdoor traditions. However, the way the bill is written could have unintended consequences for wildlife management, private property rights, and resident hunters across the state. Montanans already enjoy the right to engage in lawful hunting, fishing, and trapping harvest opportunities, so this bill is both risky and unnecessary. Constitutional amendments should be well vetted, rare, and without the potential to create unintended consequences.
SB 236 had a contentious hearing Monday morning in the House Judiciary Committee and we expect a vote on the bill soon, so please send a message to the Committee and ask them to VOTE NO on SB 236 – an unnecessary bill that would complicate wildlife management and wildlife conservation in Montana. You can also call (406) 444-4800 and ask to leave a message for the House Judiciary Committee.
The Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP) Commission will meet next week to decide on their approval of the purchase of 425 acres of riparian habitat along the Bighorn River north of Hardin. Purchase of this land at the south end of the 141-acre Grant Marsh Wildlife Management Area would create a larger block of habitat for species ranging from whitetail deer to pheasant and waterfowl. In addition, the Montana Department of Transportation is developing an adjacent 50-acre parcel as a wetland. If approved, it would create the largest block of public land along the Bighorn River providing public access and conserving important wildlife habitat.
The $1.57 million acquisition still needs to be approved by the FWP Commission and the Montana State Land Board. It would be paid for with a combination of Habitat Montana funds and federal matching funds. You can email your comments in support of this land acquisition along the Bighorn River at: [email protected], and you can find the contact information for each of the FWP Commissioners here.
Please let the Commissioners know that conserving riparian habitat along the Bighorn is a great use of Habitat Montana funds! Learn more about the issue in this news article.
As always, thanks for your support! We’re more effective when we work together….Go, Fly, Win!