Putting the "Public" Back in "Public Trust"
it is necessary to give this word of warning to those who, in praising
time past, always forget the opportunities of the present, it is a
thousand fold more necessary to remember that these opportunities are,
nevertheless, vanishing; and if we are a sensible people, we will make
it our business to see that the process of extinction is arrested.
At the present moment the great herds of
caribou are being butchered, as in the past the great herds of bison
and wapiti have been butchered. Every believer in manliness and
therefore, in manly sport, and every lover of nature, every man who
appreciates the majesty and beauty of the wilderness and of wildlife,
should strike hands with the farsighted men who wish to preserve our
material resources, in the effort to keep our forests and our game
beasts, game-birds, and game-fish-indeed, all the living creatures of
the prairie and woodland and seashore-from wanton destruction.
Above all, we should realize that
the effort toward this end is essentially a democratic movement. It is
entirely in our power as a nation to preserve large tracts of
wilderness, which are valueless for agricultural purposes and unfit for
settlement, as playgrounds for the rich and poor alike, and to
preserve the game so that it shall continue to exist for the benefit of
all lovers of nature, and to give reasonable opportunities for the
exercise of the skill of the hunter, whether he is or not a man of
means...." - Theodore Roosevelt
Kind of like cutting your nose off to spite your face? We need LWCF restored, fully funded and permanently authorized!
congressional districts have received more than double the amount of
federal spending for land acquisitions over the past five years than
Democratic districts, according to an E&E Daily analysis of Interior
and Agriculture department data.
Republican districts also saw more than twice as many acres bought and preserved over that time frame, the data show."
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hunting and fishing also means "provision" for many public lands &
waters hunters/anglers, I would like to give thanks for all the
provisions the land has. I especially would like to thank all the public
access advocates who have fought so hard over the years, decades for
some, and for those that have already passed on. Your fight has helped
Montana to hold out from the constant threat to our public resources.
"The constitution promises access to state documents and meetings,
politicians are eager to expose scoundrels in the rival party, and the
public is vigilant - or so says conventional wisdom. "Montana citizens
see something going wrong and they don't feel nosy, they don't feel
disempowered, they just fire off a complaint," said state Commissioner
of Political Practices Jonathan Motl.
But the idea that the Treasure State's government is as pristine as
the mountain air has also fostered a complacency towards certain
corruption safeguards. Citizens still face expensive court battles if
denied access to information, lobbying and ethics oversight is weak,
legislators balk at funding oversight and campaign finance rules are
shot through with holes. For those reasons, Montana earned a score of 64
and a grade of D, placing it 21st
in the State Integrity Investigation
an assessment of state government accountability and transparency
conducted by the Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity."
As a person who has put in public information requests of the State, FWP and DOL, I would to sadly agree with this assessment.
"The U.S. Department of Interior decided to cancel leases
that might have allowed a New Orleans company to drill for oil on land
considered sacred to the Blackfeet Indians. The decision follows a
recommendation by the U.S. Forest Service that energy exploration in the
165,000-acre forest would irreparably damage both the historic and
cultural significance of the area...
'Badger-Two Medicine is too
sacred to develop,' said Harry Barnes, chairman of the Blackfeet Nation
Tribal Council. 'We're grateful this administration has taken a
critical step toward permanent protection of this site that is like a
church - a divine
sanctuary - to our people.' "
Rich, administrator of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Fisheries
Division, said he's confident that the two walleyes discovered last
month in Swan Lake were illegally introduced. 'There's no other way we
can imagine,' Rich told Montana Fish and Wildlife Commissioners on
Thursday. The agency is embarking on an extensive effort 'catch who did
this,' Rich said. That includes up to a $15,000 reward for information,
Release of non-native walleye in a trout-dominated
lake is akin to the stocking of red deer or wild hogs in Montana's elk
habitat, Rich said, comparing it to bioterrorism.
The difference is fish can't be reeled back in as simply as animals can be shot, he said."
Gov. Steve Bullock wrote the CEO of Weyerhaeuser on Thursday, asking
for assurance that sawmill operations and public access to timberlands
will not be affected by the company's merger with Plum Creek.
his part, Bullock pledged to work with CEO Doyle Simons to "help the
wood products industry grow," touting his administration's efforts to
"promote active forest management in Montana."
is about to experience the evolution - or the devolution - of one of
our nation's first and worst ideas in privatizing federal lands. That
our governor is trying to maintain free public access to these lands in
return for turning over even more national forest timber to the
decidedly for-profit Weyerhaeuser Corporation is just another
continuation of the horrendously failed public policy that started with
the railroad land grants almost two centuries ago.
High court says no to public access on road near Anaconda
"The highest court in the state said no to public access Tuesday
when it reversed part of a lower court's decision on Modesty Creek
Road, about 15 miles north of Anaconda...
Justice Mike McGrath
dissented, saying the landowners never had a right to close the road in
the first place. Justice Michael Wheat joined in the dissent."
is why the election for Supreme Court justices is very important.
Justice Patricia Cotter is resigning, her position will be up for
election in 2016. I bookmarked certain articles in February, knowing
that people will forget with that much time passing before an election,
but it needs to be pointed out. I saw an article mentioning that UM
professor, Kristen Juras, of Great Falls, was going to run for the open
MT Supreme Court position. I looked her up and found a paper written on
private property rights. You can tell by the vocabulary chosen, the
paper advocates for privatization, "takings", not public rights. Here is an example, PDF page 58 (article page 99):
the early Montana courts and legislature strongly protected riparian
rights (1) by extending riparian ownership to the low-water mark of
navigable waters and to the middle of non-navigable waters, and (2) by
affirming the riparian owner's right to exclude the public's use of
privately owned streambeds, these rights have progressively
eroded. The first erosion was slight (and, in view of Montana's affinity
for fishing, caused
little controversy) - the adoption in 1933 of
the 'angler's statute' allowing fishermen to enter onto the banks of
navigable rivers between the low- and high-water marks for purposes of
fishing. The second erosion was monumental-the expansion of the public
trust doctrine to allow public use of both navigable and non-navigable
streambeds for recreational use."
We seriously do not want this
person on our MT Supreme Court undermining the Public Trust Doctrine,
public lands and water access issues. Dirk Sandefur in the Supreme Court race,
would be a much better choice for MT Public Trust. With many access
cases ending up in the MT Supreme Court, our voters need to be educated
on those running for the Supreme Court positions.
And just a
reminder for those newer to the EMWH Newsletter, I am not into party
politics, am an Independent, issue driven. EMWH is also not a
non-profit, intentionally so, with one of the reasons being I did not
want to be handcuffed and silenced during elections. Knowing that people
have short memories, I will bring this issue up again closer to the
"Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk offered to delay
trapping until Feb. 15, depending on how many animals had been killed
in the hunting season, meaning that if hunters killed enough bison,
trapping could be delayed even more.
He said it represented a
'recognition on our part that if hunter success is high, we don't have
to trap.' Wenk's idea got support from representatives of the U.S.
Forest Service; Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks; Montana Department of
Livestock, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the InterTribal
Bison Management Plan is a bloody (literally) joke.Their following
objectives were thrown out the window a long time ago, with APHIS and
DOL's agenda directing the course of action, which has no intention of
letting wild bison, which have not transmitted brucellosis to cattle,
not ever, not in any state, come into Montana because of grass politics,
which are directing these slaughter activities:
- Maintain a wild, free-ranging bison population;
- Reduce the risk of brucellosis transmission from bison to cattle;
- Manage bison that leave Yellowstone National Park and enter the State of Montana
"Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks will host an informational
meeting in Livingston on Dec. 3 to discuss a possible change to hunting
regulations that would establish limited-draw permits for bull elk in
Hunting District 313.
The informational meeting will be held on Dec. 3 at the Pioneer Lodge, 1515 West Park St. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m.
The regulation change is proposed in response to low numbers of mature bull elk in this Gardiner area hunting district."
Lewistown Conservation Writer Fired
There have been numerous articles
written this last week addressing the issues at stake, with the firing
of writer Don Thomas (E. Donnall Thomas) by Ducks Unlimited, not just
here in Montana. I decided to include some of those links for the
This issue has had a ripple affect. I
received a call from Butte's Tony Schoonen, recalling a conversation
back in 2008 about James Cox Kennedy and his DU conservation easement,
asking me to look into it. So I drove to Virgina City, Madison County to
get copies of the records and that sent me off on a week long research
trail of all these conservation easement issues which I am setting up a
web page on and will post to soon. There is a reason why Thomas was
fired, and it wasnt hurt feelings.
"Recently, MWF debated the proposal by the N-Bar Ranch in Fergus County,
which is owned by the Wilks Brothers, to trade roughly 4,868 acres of
Bureau of Land Management public lands, including 2,785 acres of the
Durfee Hills, for 5,100 acres of Wilks' land that includes the former
2,243-acre Anchor Ranch in Valley County. MWF voted to oppose the land
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"No, these fish are not sleek and beautiful like trout. But this
species of sturgeon, which can grow to a length of six feet and weigh
as much as 80 pounds, has managed to survive since the time of the
dinosaurs, with fossils dating back some 70 million years.
For all of the adaptations that have enabled this fish to have
such a long run, however, the pallid sturgeon is in serious trouble.
Twenty-five years ago, the federal government concluded the fish was in
imminent danger of extinction and placed it on the endangered species
list, where it remains today.
Despite government efforts to expand the population, only perhaps
200 or fewer wild-born pallid sturgeons are thought to inhabit one of
its last strongholds - the Montana stretches of the Missouri and
" 'Scattershot energy development in the West is reducing
hunting opportunities for millions of Americans and fragmenting some of
America's most important habitat for mule deer, pronghorn, elk, and
greater sage-grouse. Ask any hunter and they'll tell you-and the
data confirms-that wildlife populations are declining in the very parts
of Montana and Wyoming where intense drilling has occurred and the
country's largest coal mines are located,' said National Wildlife
Federation CEO and President Collin O'Mara. 'America's wildlife
deserves better. To restore wildlife populations and expand
outdoor opportunities, we need significant investment in restoring
habitat wildlife, improved planning to minimize impacts on wildlife,
and market-based federal royalties/fees sufficient to mitigate any
The NRDC and NWF state that declines in
habitats impact hunting and revenue along with tourism, driven by
wildlife. Tourism generates $3.9 billion to Montana's economy.
improve health and population the organizations are calling for better
land management reform at state and federal levels with increased
investments in wildlife recovery and sustainability."
West & US
Wild Sheep Foundation (WSF) recently met with members of Congress and
federal wildlife agencies on solutions to create safe zones against
deadly pneumonia bacteria and viruses that are infecting wild sheep
herds in the U.S."
"You have the opportunity to stop the privatization of
desirable national forest land. Western Pacific Timber Inc. (owned by
the infamous billionaire Tim Blixeth) purchased denuded, entirely
clearcut private industrial timberland bordering the Clearwater
National forest. They then announced their intention to trade for
17,854 acres (28 square miles) of pristine national forest land
scattered in the Clearwater, Nez Perce, and Idaho Panhandle National
frustrations are growing on accessing public lands, especially this
time of year within Wyoming. People hunting are noticing vast tracts of
public land once open disappearing over the years. Today: vast amounts
of public lands are for the most part landlocked by wealthy ownership,
with hired outfitting, or by leased outfitting. Even though BLM and
state public lands within Wyoming sectional maps indicate a diagonal
crossing at a corner monument is one public section to another by foot
at each correct corner monument. Therefore is such action considered
criminal trespass under Statute 36-3-136 with the intent to enter
ground even if the crossing is done on public ground?
Modern GPS technology is changing the issue of corner crossing in Wyoming."
BTW, for GPS landownership map chips, check out OnXMaps.
These chips are not just for hunting. Truth be told, I also use them
for hunting access, hunting data, hunting trespass violations, hunting
public lands for hiking, ...!
simply shrugs. 'I'm not down here cutting pirate trails,' he replies,
pointing out that both paths appear on U.S. Geological Survey
topographical maps. 'I'm providing access by maintaining what the Forest
Service has neglected.' "
were way too many comments to include here, a number expressing the
similar thouts, as well as people subscribing, expressing frustration,
forwarding copies of their comments to DU over the Thomas firing - "Way
too much gets swept under the rug"; "Some of these wildlife org's have
become an embarrassment to hunting"; "I am calling and raising hell in
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