Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful

Biden Administration’s ‘Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful’ will benefit Montana hunters and anglers.

On Thursday, the Biden Administration released a report, Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful, detailing a bold vision to conserve America’s lands and waters through locally-led conservation efforts. The concept has broad support from the sporting community such as Hunt Fish 30×30, a coalition of nearly 60 state and national sporting organizations. In response to today’s announcement, the Montana Wildlife Federation applauded the report and its emphasis on restoring valuable fish and wildlife habitat and mitigating the impacts of climate change. 

“The Biden-Harris Administration’s bold plan to conserve and restore America’s lands and waters should be applauded by hunters, anglers, and outdoor enthusiasts alike. Along with confronting the impacts of climate change, it will help create jobs, catalyze collaborative, locally driven conservation efforts and will aid in the recovery of many fish and wildlife species that are currently at risk of extinction,” said Frank Szollosi, executive director for the Montana Wildlife Federation. 

The report, which was released to the National Climate Task Force, outlines the Administration’s priorities in achieving the 30×30 initiative, a plan to conserve 30% of U.S. lands and waters over the next decade. Specifically, the principles of locally led conservation efforts in the report give significant recognition to the stewardship of America’s lands and waters by farmers, ranchers, tribal nations, hunters and anglers. 

Today’s report shows that the Administration is committed to understanding the needs of local communities to achieve conservation priorities, as well as bolstering our outdoor recreation economy and providing more access for hunters and anglers to enjoy our public lands and waters” said Szollosi.

Outfitter License Bill Creates Tags for Special Interests

Early in the 2021 Montana Legislature, the Senate Fish and Game committee heard from more than a thousand hunters who spoke strongly against a bill to create outfitter-sponsored nonresident big-game licenses. But after the initial effort to create these licenses failed, outfitters slipped a similar measure into a bill at the last minute in a terrible display of swamp-style politics. 

SB 143, sponsored by Sen. Jason Ellsworth, R-Hamilton, would have designated 60 percent of all the big game combination licenses for nonresidents as outfitter sponsored tags. The bill failed as proposed. 

Montanans said they support equal chance to draw a license for – including nonresidents who want to come here on a do-it-yourself hunt. But just as important, Montana hunters and non-residents alike were opposed because SB 143 had not been discussed with anyone other than outfitting interests. 

Fast forward about two months, to the final days of the session, and the same thing happened with HB 637, which FWP dubbed its clean-up bill for the session. Special interests had inserted in the bill an amendment that gives unlimited outfitters sponsored licenses this year. And permanently gives nonresident hunters using an outfitter an extra preference point for the coveted combination licenses. 

Montana hunters offered a solution of simply moving up the drawing date, so outfitters would know whom to market their services to. HB 637 is the worst example of a special interest exerting influence over the allocation of our public wildlife. It’s swamp-style politics at its worst. 

MWF joined many of our affiliates and conservation partners requesting the governor veto this bad bill. You can read the letter here.

Become a Montana Wildlife Federation Ambassador

Are you passionate about wildlife, habitat, and public access, and sharing that passion with the world?

 

Thank you for your interest in partnering with Montana Wildlife Federation. We are Montana’s oldest, largest, and most effective conservation organization. MWF was founded in 1936 by hunters, anglers, landowners, and other conservationists who were concerned about the loss of Montana’s natural lands, healthy waters, and abundant wildlife. Our dedicated staff maintains this legacy. 

There are many reasons why the Montana Wildlife Federation was created over 80 years ago. One of them was to bring together the numerous organizations working on conservation issues. Diversity and inclusion are more than just words to us. They’re the hard-and-fast principles guiding how we have built our organization. As an ambassador, your background and perspectives will help to create a lasting and profound impact on conservation efforts around the state. 

By joining our team, you’ll become an ambassador for our organization and an influential representative for an audience of thousands of loyal hunting, fishing, wildlife and outdoor enthusiasts. It’s important for our ambassadors to be knowledgeable about our mission and to participate in digital promotions. 

In the following materials, you will find our requirements to be an ambassador with Montana Wildlife Federation. 

Montana Wildlife Federation Requirements

  1. Understand MWF’s mission.
  2. Share digital content with Montana Wildlife Federation for promotional uses. You share with us, we will share with our followers. 
  3. Be active on social channels such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram. 
  4. Share Montana Wildlife Federation digital content regularly on your channels. 
  5. Contribute a minimum of 2 blog posts annually. This is a way for you to share your hunting/outdoor knowledge and promote your personal brand. 
  6. As your social footprint grows, send your followers invites to follow Montana Wildlife Federation. 

Please provide the following for consideration

Send materials to our Program and Partnership Director Marcus Strange at mstrange@mtwf.org  for consideration. 
  1. Short paragraph explaining why you’d like be an ambassador for Montana Wildlife Federation. 
  2. Links to your social media: YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, etc. 
  3. Link to your website (if available). 
  4. Any affiliations you have with other conservation organizations
  5. Your hunting/fishing/outdoor adventure schedule for the upcoming season. 

Thank you!

Important Items to Keep in Mind 

Montana Wildlife Federation Ambassador Requirements 

  • Ambassadors must practice legal and ethical hunting. Any violation will lead to the termination of the contract. 
  • Ambassadors must practice ethical and safe hunting, fishing, and trapping. The absence of safety on social media or elsewhere online will result in the termination of the contract.  
  • No political content that is candidates-focused or campaign-focused while wearing MWF’s logo. 

Victory for hunters, anglers, outdoor recreationalists and Montana’s outdoor economy

In a bipartisan win for public access, a win for working ranches, and a win for our outdoor recreation economy, the Montana Legislature largely defended conservation funding approved by nearly 58% of voters last fall in recently passing H.B. 701.  MWF encourages Governor Greg Gianforte to sign the bill and deliver historic funding to Montana’s Great Outdoors.  

Montana Wildlife Federation took the extraordinary step of endorsing the legalization and conservation funding ballot measures because deficiencies for our public natural resources and their enjoyment have been decades in the making and needed to be addressed. A 2019 report produced by Montana-based Headwaters Economics found numerous funding shortfalls to keep up with the growing demands on our state’s parks, ranches and farms, public trails and public wildlife. For example: 

  • Wildlife management and conservation needs an estimated $15 million annually to keep pace with a host of growing challenges, from emerging issues like Chronic Wasting Disease in big game, aquatic invasive species in our fisheries to longstanding conservation priorities that include restoring key wildlife habitat such as big game winter range. 
  • Working lands including private farms, ranches and timberlands have an unmet need of $12.4 million. The needs include conservation easements over lands slated for development. Easements keep these lands in working agriculture and timber production, while also ensuring they provide the open space to maintain wildlife habitat and public recreation on these important areas. 
  • State trails for multiple-use recreation have a $7.1 million need to address safety, erosion and access. Statewide nearly three quarters of Montanans use trails Funding is needed for maintenance and improvements. 
  • The Montana State Park system has an estimated $25.7 million maintenance backlog just to keep up with the demand on facilities. The backlog includes repairing and upgrading campgrounds, restrooms and other facilities, and boosting educational programs to meet the increased visitation. 

Many of MWF’s affiliates, Board Directors, and members across the state joined 29 other conservation groups in working with a bipartisan group of legislators to secure a projected $16 million per year by 2025 for conservation in Montana.

Bad Bills and Bison

The 67th Montana Legislative Session set wildlife conservation back by decades in our great state and this is most apparent in the all-out assault on bison restoration. With just two bills, House Bill 302 and House Bill 318, this legislature was able to severely hamper any and all efforts to restore our national mammal on public lands in our eastern prairies where they once roamed.

Whereas House Bill 318 further restricts the definition of a wild bison to the point of being nearly impossible to meet, House Bill 302 gives county commissions the authority to be the deciding voice in whether wild bison can be translocated within their respective counties. Alone these bills present significant hurdles to restoring a free-roaming wild bison herd, but together they effectively kill any opportunity to restore this species. In many ways, the state has only achieved the result of hamstringing its own authority over wildlife while also ignoring the will of the majority of Montanans. Federal land agencies have stated their intent to establish wild bison on federal lands in appropriate places through the Trump administration’s Bison Conservation Initiative, and this can be done with, or without, the Gianforte administration.

To sum it up, Montana hunters and wildlife conservationists have been asking for a free-roaming wild bison herd for decades and, just when collaborative efforts were about to yield substantial results, one legislative session has set the clock back well over a decade. The Montana Wildlife Federation has submitted a request to Governor Gianforte asking him to veto these bills and respect the years of your hard work to begin restoration of this valued native wildlife species.  

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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