The 66th Montana Legislature gaveled into session this week. Montana Audubon’s legislative team now launches into a four-month frenzy of researching, strategizing, testifying, and lobbying on bills that affect Montana’s wildlife, as well as habitat, and other environmental laws. A number of emerging threats could impact conservation this session; attacks on Habitat Montana, conservation easements, clean water, and the Greater Sage Grouse conservation program are expected.
Legislative policy work is a longstanding Montana Audubon tradition: our first lobbyist was hired in 1981, and we maintain a presence in the legislative trenches every session—we always expect to accomplish a great deal of conservation work between January and May during legislative years. But, we also need your help: during the 2019 session, we will host two citizen lobby days on February 6th and March 13th. On those days we will prepare participants with an orientation on lobbying, learn about the legislative process, and work directly with legislators.
All session long, we will email regular “Action Alerts” to our members to help guide you to your legislators to send your comments on important committee hearings and critical votes. To learn about all of the legislation we are tracking, you can follow our “2019 Bill Table” which will soon be posted on our website. Montana Audubon’s lobbying team will be in the state capitol every day working to defeat challenges to conservation while supporting proactive legislation to protect our wildlife, access to public lands, and to keep our outdoor heritage intact. (And don’t forget to attend the Rally for Public Lands on Friday, January 11th, 12 pm at the state Capitol in Helena!)
In the 2019 session, Montana Audubon will focus on a number of diverse and challenging conservation issues that have already risen, including:
Like every session, there will be numerous bills affecting wildlife. Montana Audubon will be involved with many, including: revisions to bird-dog hunting laws; invasive species laws; bills to repeal or gut the Sage-Grouse act; and a bill to remove restrictions on the possession of foxes.
Water is our most important resource, and numerous bills are already being introduced on this issue—from drought management and stream gauges to revised variances for water quality standards. Since water is so vital for wildlife, habitat and human communities, Montana Audubon will give significant focus on this legislation.
This session, and after the recent Montana Supreme Court ruling, Montana legislators may challenge one of the most important aspects to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ (FWP) Habitat Montana Program: conservation easements. We will look for any legislation that would negatively impact conservation easements, and will be working to stop any legislation that may arise.