MWF 2017 Spring Newsletter

2017-Public-Lands-Rally---David-Stalling

The Montana Wildlife Federation is making significant progress toward several of our goals as we reach the halfway point of the 2017 Legislative Session.
MWF has been pursuing a six point agenda for the session. This agenda includes several proactive measures that we aim to pass to conserve wildlife, protect public land, and expand public access. Our agenda also includes our usual work to defend science-based wildlife management from political interference. Thus far we have made some progress on every one of our priorities.

Read the full Legislative halftime update, these important topics, and more in the MWF Spring 2017 Newsletter

  • Playing Politics with BLM Planning 2.0
  • Get Involved in the Lewis & Clark Forest Plan
  • Federal & State Sage Grouse Plans Under Attack
  • MWF Spearheading New Sporting Coalition
  • Meet Martha Williams the new head of MT FWP
  • Executive Order Rolls Back Stream Protections
  • MWF Annual Celebration – March 31 in Helena

Capitol Report: Budgets and Bills

Capitol-Griz

The 2017 Legislature was back at it after the transmittal break, and lawmakers in the House got to work to pass Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks budget and send it to the Senate.

The operating budget, HB 2, contains the funding for the operations at FWP. The bill was heard before the House Appropriations committee, and passed with a few amendments. One of those is problematic because it uses federal Pittman Robertson firearm and ammunition excise tax dollars for law enforcement, which puts restrictions on what game wardens can use their time working on. We will be working to get that amended out when HB 2 is heard in the Senate Finance and Claims committee.

The budget also does one-time-only funding for the Parks and Communications and Education departments within FWP. While that’s not ideal for planning, it will give those departments a chance to review their budgets coming into the 2019 Legislature.

Next week, the House Appropriations committee will hear HB 5, the capitol improvements bill for the state that includes the Habitat Montana program. MWF has worked with 11 other sportsmen and conservation organizations to build a coalition to get Habitat Montana spending authority fully restored. We will be organizing to ensure that the committee hears the voices of hunters and anglers about the importance of our best habitat and access program.

Livestock Loss Prevention

SB 73 to renew the state Livestock Loss program was heard this week in the House Agriculture committee. This bill brings together conservation and agriculture groups to seek solutions to the difficult issues of living with wolves and grizzly bears. The bill renews the program that would sunset this year, and it includes funding for prevention work that includes carcass management, fencing and range riders. MWF has worked throughout the past year to build successful programs that benefit people and wildlife.

Hunters Against Hunger, CWD and other bills

SB 183, to lift the sunset on the Hunters Against Hunger program, passed out of House FWP and is sailing toward passage. In addition, this week SJ 9, calling for a study of chronic wasting disease, passed out of the Senate Fish and Game committee 7-4. We strongly support this effort to look into the biggest threat to ungulate herds and how to prepare for its arrival in Montana.

In addition, HB 324 to overhaul how state parks are managed passed out of the House. MWF opposes this bill and will work on the Senate side to kill it. While we understand that the parks have maintenance issues, those are best handled within the department under the leadership of the FWP director.

As always, check the Montana Wildlife Federation bill tracker at montanawildlife.org for the most up-to-date information on bills and where they’re at in the process. For questions, contact MWF Conservation Director Nick Gevock at ngevock@mtwf.org or by calling 458-0227 ext. 108.

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Alec Underwood

Federal Conservation Campaigns Director

Alec is responsible for developing and implementing MWF’s federal conservation advocacy and policy campaigns to protect Montana’s fish and wildlife. He spends most of his free time hunting big game and fly fishing Montana’s cherished trout rivers. He also enjoys backpacking, skiing, photography, and woodworking. 

alec@mtwf.org