Putting the "Public" Back In "Public Trust"

"I wonder when hunters and anglers in the West are finally going to take to the streets."
- Chris Madson

Last week I learned that The General Appropriations Act of 2013 HB 2 (pgs. 27-29) included a Legislatively Enacted 4% Personal Services Reductions on the Executive Branch agencies (did not impose them on Legislative or Judicial. I could easily come up with some Legislative cuts that would not only be economical, but seriously benefit the Public!), that also affects our Fish, Wildlife and Parks dept., which are being enacted now with a 4% reduction of employees (except wardens, which have 12 vacancies they need to fill as it is). This means we just lost 5 fulltime employees from Wildlife, 6 from Fisheries and "some" from Administration (this may be a position that was already vacated months ago). I called the next morning to Helena FWP to find out the specifics. Ron Aasheim emailed me that the information would be forthcoming this next week.

Heres the thing - FWP is funded 70% by our sportsmens license dollars. Another 30% (29.5%) comes from Federal Revenue generated from the sale of arms, ammo, fishing & boating equipment. Basically, FWP is sportsmens dollars self sufficient, not requiring any State taxpayer paid General Fund dollars (Page 15, big red block at the top). FWP does have a 1/2 of 1% (.5%) State General fund amount that it receives ($309,125) to carry out a portion of Montana's Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Program. That is it. Look at that first left hand column, it is 0 all the way down except that line 2.

So why were we included in an employee reduction when we have the dollars to fund FWP? State taxpayers are not funding FWP that the legislature needs to direct a reduction in this agency. Why has the special interest Republican dominated legislature put a stranglehold on our sportsmen's dollars, prohibiting FWP from utilizing our dollars from necessary programs and employees? What about our own license fee increase, which many of us asked for? Why has this same special interest segment also cut FWP's ability to purchase additional public lands for our wildlife habitat with our own sportsmen generated dollars that cant be used for anything else? Who wants to only be a renter or pay a landowner to not develop their own private land, when we can be the landowners and have not only additional habitat for our wildlife, but PUBLIC hunting access opportunities?

Not to say that there cant be some better management at FWP, but these special interest legislators are intentionally hamstringing FWP to fail and then have the big bully brass ones to bitch at FWP for failing!

Click Image for Full Size

IR Editorial: New law poses major threats to habitat, access program
"The reality of the 2015 Montana Legislature is settling in, and one state agency has found itself stripped of some crucial authority...

HB403 is a short-sighted attempt to decrease the size of state government, but it’s done at the expense of sportsmen and women around Montana who value access to wildlife and outdoor recreation. Also sacrificed here are communities who could benefit from their proximity to some of Montana's most prized landscapes. Additionally, private property rights take a hit as this arbitrary law prohibits a private landowner from selling land to FWP through its programs.

The funding for land purchases targeted by HB403 all comes from license fees paid by sportsmen. This money doesn’t come from state coffers. It isn’t a general fund allocation. It doesn’t go somewhere else now that it won’t be used to acquire land. This money will either be used for conservation easements or sit idle, while the funding sources continue to generate more revenue for the program. In the last biennium more than $11 million was generated for these programs." 

Montana governor vetoes public land task force bill
"Montana's governor vetoed a bill Monday he said would have created a task force to study the transfer or sell-off of public lands.

Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock rejected the act that would create a public land task force to study state and federal land management. It was the only major public-lands management bill that made it through the 2015 Legislature, despite the backing of Republicans who added to their party platform last year the transfer of federal lands to the state."

How valuable are Montana’s public lands? Priceless by John Sullivan (BHA)
"Gov. Steve Bullock is looking out for the best interests of Montanans.
The governor vetoed a controversial bill that would have opened the door to the seizure (and possible sale) of landholdings administered by the federal government and owned by the American people. In doing so, he ensured that Montana’s public lands and waters will remain accessible by sportsmen and other outdoor recreationists for the foreseeable future."

FWP moves forward with land deals ahead of program cuts by Tom Kuglin
"Though the Legislature has stripped Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ authority to purchase land in the future, the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission gave approval Thursday for the department to continue negotiations already underway for the purchase of seven properties across the state."

Who wants to be a renter when they can be a landowner? This is what the special interest legislators did when they went after the FWP funding. They did not want our sportsmens dollars to purchase land for fish and wildlife habitat, but they wanted our dollars to pay private landowners for easements and for Block Management funding, strengthening private landowners, while weakening the Public. We can have a strong landowner relationship without throwing the Public, our fish/wildlife/habitat and FWP under the bloody special interest steamroller. We need to vote the self serving Public Trust thieves out of office and elect true representatives for the People of Montana, who will SERVE to strengthen and build up all of Montana!

FWP proposes keeping wolf rules the same by Michael Wright
"Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks wants to keep wolf hunting and trapping regulations the same, but some sportsmen and environmental groups have different ideas — on opposite ends of the spectrum."

UM Wilderness Institute seeks citizen volunteers for backpacking excursions
The Wilderness Institute at the University of Montana invites citizen volunteers to help collect scientific data this summer and fall in several stunning Montana wilderness areas.

Glacier Country
Bitterroot National Forest: Reflect on recreation's impacts by Gary Milner
"It would be nice to read comments that incorporate a range of peer-reviewed science about impacts, or quotes of the laws that govern the lands in question. The science is there and, more often than not, points to the impacts associated with their recreations. They’re left falling back to 'rights,' being locked out or just a refusal to look at their possible impacts.

About 3 percent of the Lower 48 is wilderness; a little more being wilderness study areas or recommended wilderness (over 2,000 miles of roads on the BNF alone - amazing!). It’s hardly extreme to do all we can to protect the last 3-4 percent."

Bitterroot Valley elk population continues to grow by Perry Backus
"Elk numbers in the Bitterroot Valley continue to grow. After counting elk on 25 separate flights over a five-week period, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist Rebecca Mowry’s final tally found 8,054 elk in the valley and surrounding mountains. Last year, she counted 7,391 during the same flights."

Southwest Montana
Congratulations to Harold Johns, the new Skyline Sportsmens Association President. Awesome group of conservationists there in Butte.

Animals put 2 newly constructed wildlife underpasses to use by Karl Puckett
"Keeping animals and motorists safe is the aim of two wildlife underpasses that were incorporated into a $10.6 million reconstruction of a 7.2-mile stretch of Highway 200 just east of here, at a cost of $700,000.

The high-traffic highway runs through the heart of a bustling wildlife corridor, prompting the extra spending so wildlife can cross under rather than across the highway.

'Basically, any wildlife in the state is out there, so we hope to get 'em using these underpasses and keep 'em off the road,' said Paul Sturm, a biologist for the Montana Department of Transportation's Great Falls District."

Yellowstone Country
Students learn about their national forests at Bear Creek by Mike Moore
" 'Who owns this mountain range?' Stiles asked the students. 'We manage it, but we don’t own it. It’s your land; that is one of the reasons we brought you out here. You’re here to have fun and learn.' "

Teen gored by bison in Yellowstone National Park
While I do not like to see anyone hurt by wildlife, especially someone young and perhaps unfamiliar with real wildlife, the fact remains that signs are posted everywhere the minimum distances you should keep from specific wildlife. Being 3-6 ft away is not a respectable distance from a wild bison.
"She says a 16-year old girl turned to have her picture taken and had her back to the bison when it gored her and pushed her to the ground...

The Yellowstone National Park website notes that there are more people hurt by bison than by bears each year in Yellowstone. Park regulations state that visitors must stay at least 25 yards away from bison or elk and 100 yards away from bears and wolves."

A tense situation for tourists as black bears cross Montana Bridge
Perhaps an alternate title would be, "Potential Darwin Award runners up risk lives and threaten wildlife, for what, social media?" They are WILDlife, treat them with respect and give them their space.
"Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks posted the video to Facebook on Friday, and it had garnered 86,000 views in the first five hours. Reads the description: 'It serves as a reminder that wildlife can be unpredictable. For your safety and theirs, respect wildlife and give them room to roam. View and photograph from established observation areas. Stay a safe distance to reduce stress on wildlife. Luckily, no one was hurt and these bears made it safely back to the forest.' "

Central Montana
BLM’s HiLine District plan modified to include new area
"In its plan, the BLM has identified 399,000 acres of the Hi-Line district as having wilderness characteristics — parcels that 'possess sufficient size, naturalness, and outstanding opportunities for either solitude or primitive and unconfined recreation' as well as 'supplemental values,' such as ecological, geological or historical values.

It added two additional parcels, Lena and Carpenter creeks — an additional 13,000 acres — after reviewing a Montana Wilderness Association request, Hockett said. That doesn’t mean they will all be managed as wilderness, though.

Yet that’s what the conservation groups would prefer to see — the whole 399,000 acres managed as land with wilderness characteristics."

Washington men stripped of Montana hunting privileges
"Five Washington state men have been stripped of hunting privileges in Montana for five years and ordered to pay $41,000 in fines and restitution for their role in illegally shooting trophy elk in a closed hunting district on the Rocky Mountain Front and failing to check them at a game station."

Missouri River Country
Landowners threaten to ban hunters due to veto of bison relocation bill by Brett French
"Saying that Gov. Steve Bullock made a 'real big mistake' in vetoing his Senate Bill 284 that would have allowed county commissioners to decide whether bison should be located in their county, Sen. John Brenden vowed that Eastern Montana landowners would retaliate by not allowing sportsmen access to their property in the upcoming hunting season.

'The governor and the sportsmen are going to have to pay the consequences for this,' said Brenden, R-Scobey."

You can only play the fucking, "We are not going to allow sportsmen access if we dont get what we want" card so many times. "Bullying" is defined as - habitually cruel or overbearing, especially to smaller or weaker people. And "stranglehold" is defined as a force or influence that stops something from growing or developing. How is it that this "legislator" chairs our Senate Fish & Game Committee? How can a legislator threaten and intimidate the public and our government, if he does not get what he wants?

Aerial images show BLM archaeological site after controlled burn by Brett French
"In an experimental project, aerial photographs and a 3-D map of the Henry Smith archaeological site were taken by an unmanned aircraft system between April 28 and 30 by the Bureau of Land Management’s Hi-Line District following a controlled burn of the site."

Southeast Montana
Montana FWP on Young Wildlife: 'If You Care, Leave Them There'
"Gibson says, if you see a baby animal, the best thing you can do is leave it alone. He says the mother is almost always in the area, and if you approach the baby, you may scare her away.

If you try to help the animal by taking it to wildlife officials, Gibson says they would have to let it go, but if the baby can't find its mother, it probably won't survive.

It's also crucial you don't feed the animals.

U.S. Senate budget resolves to sell our public land by Art Canfield
This is an excellent economic overview/explanation, well worth your few minutes of reading, to debunk the lies about selling our Public Trust birthright to settle debt.
"In March the U.S. Senate Republican majority sponsored and passed a 2016-2025 Budget resolution, including amendment SA838 to sell, transfer or exchange our federal public land. These are National Forest and BLM lands, excluding national parks, preserves and monuments. Our Senators cast split votes for and against that amendment on party lines.

A common argument is that we need those revenues to balance the budget and reduce federal debt. 'If we don’t cut the debt we risk going bankrupt like Greece! We owe all this debt to China! China is America’s banker! Our grandchildren will be slaves to China! They will be saddled with debt they can’t possibly pay, making their lives miserable.'

All deliberate fear misinformation – this is a two-faced objective, driven not by real fiscal need, but financial gain for the few at the top. Privatize selected huge tracts of public land for single-purpose, unrestricted commercial extraction of natural resources, including water."

Selling a Birthright: What would the West be like without its federal lands? by Chris Madson
"This isn’t the work of a renegade bunch of disgruntled brush poppers. It’s a well-funded, carefully coordinated effort to disinherit 318 million Americans inflicted on us by a tiny group of billionaire outlanders. The injury would be felt across the country, but it would be most painful for the people who have chosen to live, often at great personal cost, in the 12 western states that contain most of the nation’s public land. More than 1.8 million of these westerners hunt, and the overwhelming majority of that hunting occurs on national forests and BLM rangelands. More than 5.3 million westerners fish, and while a solid proportion of these anglers pursue their sport on the ocean or on large reservoirs, many, if not most, spend at least some their time fishing on federal land.

So what would ALEC’s brave new West be like for the average resident and tourist? A poorer place …."

Investigators: Fed gov't allowing significant waste of natural gas, costing taxpayers millions
"Significant amounts of natural gas on federal lands are being wasted, costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars each year and adding to harmful greenhouse gas emissions, a congressional investigation has found.

The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office also said the Bureau of Land Management failed to conduct production inspections for hundreds of high-priority oil and gas wells — roughly 1 out of 5 — to ensure full payment of royalties to the U.S."

Hiker's Facebook rant snowballs into anti-vandalism movement
"A simple Facebook post from a frustrated hiker who spotted two kids carving their names into a railing along a Forest Service trail has turned into a national movement more powerful than many creative ad campaigns.

'It's not about the railing,' said Brett Nelson. 'It's about the message.'

Nelson is the man who started the anti-vandalism discussion, which catapulted itself into personal computers and cell phones across the nation.

Forbidden Data, Wyoming just criminalized citizen science.
"Imagine visiting Yellowstone this summer. You wake up before dawn to take a picture of the sunrise over the mists emanating from Yellowstone hot springs. A thunderhead towers above the rising sun, and the picture turns out beautifully. You submit the photo to a contest sponsored by the National Weather Service. Under a statute signed into law by the Wyoming governor this spring, you have just committed a crime and could face up to one year in prison."

I would like to thank PLWA for including my UPOM's Landowner Hypocrisy OpEd in  their last newsletter, "The other is from the intrepid PLWA member Kathryn Q who really nails it. You will find this interesting reading. (We love the handle "United Public Property Owners of Montana"   Kathryn puts on PLWA !)" I would also like to thank all those who called or emailed in response to the OpEd that ran in the Gazette, the Missoulian and the Independent, sharing how much different parts of the message resonated with them. But I would like to say that while I may appear "intrepid" (without fear), it is my fear of the privatizations, the lies and hypocrisies, the raping and pillaging of our Public Trust that drives me. My hope is that more and more of the Public will take to "take to the streets", the Legislature, the OpEd's and Letters to the Editors, taking their Public Trust back resoundingly.
I would like to thank the following contributors for supporting EMWH. Your gift is very much appreciated.

 Anonymous donor from Central Montana for your contribution to EMWH,
& Leviyah Kern.

If you would like to further this work and research,
   please click to contribute to EMWH.

Thank you,
Kathryn QannaYahu


Wildlife &


Bozeman, MT

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