Montana Poised to Establish a National Precedent for 21st Century Conservation Funding

Montana hunters, anglers, conservationists support bid for $18 million-a-year investment in wildlife, habitat, access

The Montana Wildlife Federation is Montana’s oldest, largest and most effective statewide wildlife conservation and sporting organization. Our roots date back to 1936, when hunters and anglers joined landowners to restore Montana’s depleted wildlife. We have an 84-year record of working to solve the difficult issues surrounding public wildlife, habitat and access to enjoy our public trust resources.

MWF endorses I-190 and CI-118 because of their tremendous potential to address longstanding financial issues surrounding many of our public resources. It’ll be extraordinary if Montana voters support this new revenue stream for conservation. Natural resources, working lands and public recreation would tremendously benefit from passage of these ballot initiatives.

With CI-118 and I-190, it’s estimated that Montana’s budget for public land access and management would see an $18-million boost in revenue. I-190 is a statutory initiative that legalizes, regulates, and taxes marijuana in Montana. CI-118 amends the Montana Constitution to make the minimum age for consumption and purchase of marijuana 21.

I-190 includes language that earmarks half of generated marijuana tax revenue for conservation efforts, however, CI-118 also needs to pass for these funds to be made available. The Nongame Wildlife Special Revenue Account, State Park Special Revenue Account, and Trails and Recreational Facilities Account will each get more than 4 percent of tax revenue generated from marijuana sales. Habitat Montana alone will get 37 percent of collected revenue. Combined, that’s more than $18 million per year in funding for Montana’s wildlife, waters, and public lands.

Montana Wildlife Federation is taking the extraordinary step of endorsing these ballot measures because funding deficiencies for public natural resources and their enjoyment have been decades in the making and need 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, toilets, and other facilities, and boosting educational programs to meet the increased visitation.

With roughly half of the public revenue generated by I-190 and CI-118 dedicated to these important needs, Montana is poised to establish a significant national precedent for funding conservation in the 21st century. The funding will benefit wildlife habitat on public and private lands – including important big game winter range and helping efforts to prevent wildlife from becoming endangered. It will go toward our state parks. And it will go toward trails and recreation that all Montanans enjoy. This initiative would benefit all Montanans; our quality of life, ranchers and landowners who are our partners in conservation, and our growing outdoor recreation economy.

If approved by Montana voters, Montana Wildlife Federation will collaborate with many others to ensure that state government will abide by the will of the electorate.  MWF will staunchly oppose any attempts at reallocation of existing or new conservation appropriations.

 

 

The 2021 Montana Legislature: Bills and Budgets

Every session of the Montana Legislature, numerous bills come forward that affect our public lands, waters, fish and wildlife resources. In addition, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks needs to craft a budget that meets the needs of those resources, as well as all Montanans who enjoy wildlife, fish, and our state parks in numerous ways. Join state Sen. Tom Jacobson, Montana FWP Chief of Staff Quentin Kujala and MWF Conservation Director Nick Gevock for a look at what are likely to be the biggest issues in the upcoming 2021 Legislature. 

You can now register to attend the celebration conservation victories and help build capacity for the challenges and opportunities ahead. The auction and Membership meeting is open to conservationists in Montana, across the country and around the world. Share this invitation widely with your networks! Register today, invite your team, and get ready for some exciting updates in your inbox soon!

Sen. Tom Jacobson, D-Great Falls, has served three terms in the state House and one in the Senate while serving on the House Fish, Wildlife and Parks and Senate Fish and Game committees. Tom is a lifelong hunter and angler and has been a strong advocate for Montana hunters, anglers and outdoor recreational users. He has also stood up for protecting public lands and been a strong advocate for increasing access to those lands and waters. He has twice received awards for his work from the Montana Wildlife Federation. 

Quentin Kujala is chief of staff for the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. He has previously served as a senior biologist within the Wildlife Division of FWP and as a field biologist working along the Rocky Mountain Front. He has a master’s degree in fish and wildlife science from Montana State University. 

Nick Gevock serves as the conservation director for the Montana Wildlife Federation. Before that he worked as newspaper reporter in Bozeman and Butte, covering numerous natural resource, wildlife and public lands issues throughout southwestern Montana. He is an avid hunter, angler and outdoor recreationist. He travels throughout Montana with his dog Willow in pursuit of birds, hunts big game and likes to flyfish. Gevock works on key wildlife, habitat and access issues at the local, state and federal level. 

Public Access to Public Lands, Opportunities

Access to public land – everybody’s for it. But often, the solutions to landlocked or large blocks of public lands that are inaccessible to the public are complex. There are a host of state and federal programs that help acquire land that is mixed in with public land, or open easements to those lands. But in other cases, the solutions are more complex. 

Join a panel discussion that includes MWF staff and a board member, and a federal official to talk about an effort in the East Crazy Mountains to increase access, as well as other measures MWF is pursuing to help increase public access. Registration is required.

Learn more about the panelists.

JohnSJohn Salazar serves as a board member for the Montana Wildlife Federation. He is a longtime hunter and angler, and outdoor recreationist who lives in Livingston. John has served for nearly two years on a working group of landowners, hunters, conservation interests and others working to improve public access into the Crazy Mountains of the Custer-Gallatin and Lewis and Clark national forests. He owns a restoration company in Livingston and enjoys the outdoors with his family. 

 

nickGNick Gevock serves as the conservation director for the Montana Wildlife Federation. Before that he worked as newspaper reporter in Bozeman and Butte, covering numerous natural resource, wildlife and public lands issues throughout southwestern Montana. He is an avid hunter, angler and outdoor recreationist. He travels throughout Montana with his dog Willow in pursuit of birds, hunts big game and likes to flyfish. Gevock works on key wildlife, habitat and access issues at the local, state and federal level. 

View our packed agenda!

The auction and Membership meeting is open to conservationists in Montana, across the country and around the world. Share this invitation widely with your networks! Register today, invite your team, and get ready for some exciting updates in your inbox soon!

Voices in Conservation

Because of the impacts of COVID-19, we shifted the 2020 Montana Wildlife Conservation Celebration to a free, global, virtual gathering October 15-20. In making this celebration our most accessible ever—we’re also re-imagining our celebration entirely to ensure that you get the most from every minute. 

The silent auction, Membership and Business, meeting and all panel discussions are open to conservationists in Montana, across the country and around the world. Share this invitation widely with your networks! Register today, invite your team, and get ready for some exciting updates in your inbox soon!

Voices in Conservation

Join panelists Marcia Brownlee Artemis Program Manager, Jimmy Flatt Hunters of Color Founder, Anna Le Fisheries Biologist and Environmental Educator, SJ Keller Queers and Camo as they discuss how hunters and anglers are speaking up for wildlife and wildlands while diversifying the outdoors.

Marcia Brownlee, Artemis Program Manager

Marcia lives in Montana, where she spends as much time as she can hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, stargazing, and foraging . For 15 years, Marcia worked as an educator with a focus on place-based education that nurtured kids’ natural curiosity for and love of the outdoors. As the Artemis Program Manager, she focuses on creating a community of powerful, informed sportswomen who will foster positive change and defend and secure the future of our public lands, waters, and wildlife.

Artemis Sportswomen is on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Jimmy Flatt, Manufacturing Engineer and Founder of Hunters of Color 

 Jimmy grew up in the heart of California’s wine country (Sonoma Valley) where hills of vineyards have replaced a once-abundant oak savannah covered in elk, deer, bear (black and California Grizzly), mountain lion, coyote, salmon, steelhead and migratory birds.  He moved to Oregon in search of ecosystems that have remained more wild, and to pursue my degree in Mechanical Engineering. Jimmy founded a non-profit called Hunters of Color with a mission to share my love of nature with everyone, so that future generations are prepared to conserve/protect/restore the wild places we have left.

Check out Hunters of Color on Instagram.

Anna Le, Fisheries Biologist and Environmental Educator 

Originally from California, Anna attended Oregon State University from 2014-2019, where she got her degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Science and developed her passion for protecting the rivers and all things inhabiting it. She also has a background in environmental education through many volunteer opportunities and seasonal positions as an outdoor field instructor having worked with students of all ages and families from varying backgrounds. She’s worked multiple field positions collecting fisheries data, developing curriculums for outdoor education, and creating social media content in the state of Oregon, Wyoming, and now resides in Colorado. With her cultural background, she believes diverse perspectives and personnel allow for better decision making in conserving the natural world. 

Learn more about Anne on Instagram,  and Twitter.

SJ Keller, Queers and Camo and Science and Environmental Journalist

Learn more about one of our panelists, SJ Keller, co-founder of Queers & Camo, a new group for LGBTQ+ outdoorspeople and allies. SJ is an independent science and conservation writer based in Bozeman, Montana. Their work on how society confronts challenging wildlife and natural resource issues has appeared in High Country News, VICE News, MeatEater, New Scientist, Science Magazine, Smithsonian.com, and others. In addition to being a passionate hunter, SJ loves gardening, forager, skiing and cycling. They are an ambassador for Artemis Sportswomen and a NextGen advisory board member for the Gallatin Valley Land Trust.

Learn more about SJ and Queers and Camo on Twitter  and Instagram. 

Montana Wildlife Conservation 2020 Celebration Agenda

Register for the Montana Wildlife Conservation 2020 Celebration!

Yes, it’s virtual. Yes, it’s global. Yes, it’s free.

Because of the impacts of COVID-19, we shifted the 2020 Montana Wildlife Conservation Celebration to a free, global, virtual gathering October 15-20. In making this celebration our most accessible ever—we’re also re-imagining our celebration entirely to ensure that you get the most from every minute. 

Be sure to check out our packed agenda and register. By registering you register for all events. We will send out an email several days before the Celebration begins with private link and password. Each day you will receive an email with a reminder of the days events and links to join!

Check out our Packed Agenda!

Thursday, October 15, 4:30-5:30 PM                                                       

Saving Our Herds: Containing the Spread of Chronic Wasting Disease

Chronic Wasting Disease is an always-fatal neurological disease found in members of the deer family. It has been in North America for several decades but was first detected in Montana in November 2017. Montana wildlife biologists have a goal of keeping the disease below 5 percent prevalence, and this year are implementing new carcass disposal rules to work to prevent further human-caused spread. Join Quentin Kujala, Chief of Staff, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and Emily Almberg, FWP Wildlife Biologist along with Nick Gevock, Conservation Director for Montana Wildlife Federation to talk about how hunters can do our part in this fight. 

Thursday, October 15, 6:30-7:30 PM 

The Last Cast: Climate change and fly fishing in Big Sky Country

Join Alec Underwood, Federal Conservation Campaigns Director for Montana Wildlife Federation and Sara Meloy, MWF Board Member for a brief presentation on the impacts of climate change on Montana’s world renown trout fisheries and enjoy a screening of MWF’s short film, The Last Cast. 

Friday, October 16, 4:30pm-5:30pm 

Affiliate Round Table

Join MWF staff, board members, and affiliate leaders for a roundtable discussion about the future of the MWF affiliate program and how to continue growing this partnership. Citizens invested in wildlife management were critical to our previous accomplishments and are critical to our continued success. Our network of affiliate organizations throughout the state in addition to our strong member base helps us stay heavily engaged in key issues affecting wildlife at the local, regional, and statewide levels. Led by Marcus Strange, Partnerships Director for Montana Wildlife Federation.

Friday, October 16, 6:00-7:00 PM 

Public Access to Public Lands, Opportunities

Access to public land – everybody’s for it. But often, the solutions to landlocked or large blocks of public lands that are inaccessible to the public are complex. There are a host of state and federal programs that help acquire land that is mixed in with public land, or open easements to those lands. But in other cases, the solutions are more complex. Join John Salazar, MWF Board Member and Treasurer and Nick Gevock, Conservation Director for Montana Wildlife Federation to talk about an effort in the east Crazy Mountains to increase access, as well as other measures MWF is pursuing to help increase public access.

Saturday, October 17, 7PM- 9PM 

Hunting Film Tour Virtual Movie Night 

Join your fellow MWF members for a virtual movie night! MWF is partnering with the Hunting Film Tour to share a series of fair chase hunting films that are sure to inspire your next adventure. Sit back and enjoy a lineup of films from the comfort of your own home that showcase a series of epic adventures that are guaranteed to entertain and inspire.

Sunday, October 18, 4-5 PM

Legislative Preview in Helena and Washington, D.C.

Every session of the Montana Legislature and U.S. Congress, numerous bills come forward that affect our public lands, waters, fish and wildlife resources. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks needs to craft a budget that meets the needs of those resources, as well as all Montanans who enjoy wildlife, fish, and our state parks in numerous ways. In addition, MWF will be discussing the impact of the legalization and conservation funding ballot on Habitat if the funding measures are approved by Montana voters. Join State Sen. Tom Jacobson (Great Falls), Quentin Kujala, Chief of Staff for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Nick Gevock, Conservation Director for Montana Wildlife Federation and Frank Szollosi, Executive Director for Montana Wildlife Federation for a look at what are likely to be the biggest issues in the upcoming state and federal legislative sessions.

Sunday, October 18, 6-7 PM 

The Future of Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge and Bison Reintroduction

The Great Plains of Montana once sustained millions of bison herds, but the population was devastated by development, human encroachment, and habitat loss. At more than a million acres, the Charles M. Russell (CMR) National Wildlife Refuge is a unique opportunity to restore a free-roaming wild population to America’s public lands. The National Wildlife Federation has a vision to return bison to their native home in and around the 1.1-million-acre refuge. Join State Senator Pat Flowers (Bozeman),  Tom France, Regional Executive Director for National Wildlife Federation, Frank Szollosi, Executive Director for Montana Wildlife Federation, and Mary Zeiss Stange Co-Lead for Montana Artemis Alliance.

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Monday, October 19, 6:30PM -7:30PM 

Voices in Conservation

Join panelists Marcia Brownlee, Program Manager for Artemis Sportswomen Alliance, Jimmy Flatt, Hunters of Color Founder, Anna Le, Fisheries Biologist and Environmental Educator, and SJ Keller of Queers and Camo, as they discuss how hunters and anglers are speaking up for wildlife and wildlands while diversifying the outdoors. 

Tuesday, October 20, 6PM- 8:30PM 

MWF Business and Board Meeting

Join us for the online Business and Board meeting for organizational updates, a policy resolution vote, Board and Officer elections and more.

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