The Montana Wildlife Federation thanks Gov. Gianforte for vetoing SB 306, a bill that would have required that three of the seven Fish and Wildlife Commission members be landowners in agricultural production.
“This bill would have thrown off balance the management of our public trust fish and wildlife resources. Montana deserves broad representation for everyone who values these incredible resources,” said Tom Puchlerz, MWF board president. “Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks always consider landowners in every decision, but giving them such a large block on this commission without any designated seats for hunters and anglers was bad policy that would have changed longstanding Montana management to provide public sporting opportunities.”
SB 306, sponsored by Sen. Mike Lang, R-Malta, followed another bill that expanded the commission from five to seven members, with one from each of the seven FWP administrative regions. MWF supported HB 163 because we saw it as a way to provide better representation for all Montanans throughout the state.
But SB 306’s mandate that three of those are agricultural producers was problematic. Gov. Gianforte in his veto letter stated that many farmers and ranchers manage their operations through a Limited Liability Company, and therefore might not be considered a landowner who qualifies to serve under the bill. He also wrote that while he supported the intent, the bill’s language of four potential types of agricultural production could be interpreted to require that a landowner conduct all of them. That too would limit whom a governor could choose to serve on the body, he said.
MWF is always looking to work with our friends in the agricultural community to find solutions to the complex issues around fish and wildlife management and believes that every commissioner should consider all interests in making decisions.
Please consider sending the governor a thank you for vetoing this bad bill.
Photo by Kyle Moon.