By Montana Wildlife Federation President and Board Chair, Dr. Chris Servheen.
It seems like it’s been a long winter, but spring is in the air. The sun feels warmer every day. Did you know there is a special word to describe the warmth of the winter sun especially as spring approaches? That word is apricity, which means the warmth of the sun in winter. The birds around my house are singing in the snow and the local marsh is frozen and snowy but the red-winged blackbirds are back, and they act like it is 70 degrees as they sing perched over the ice every morning.
MWF has been busy with the legislature and working hard to build bipartisan support for conservation programs on habitat, elk management and predator legislation. It is the halfway mark of the legislature as I write this. We have seen some successes and some problems. Habitat Montana funding is still under threat even though the voters overwhelmingly supported taxing marijuana sales to fund this very beneficial program. We will keep pushing and hope for the best by the end of the session.
MWF is planning a day-long public conference on April 15 in Helena at the Best Western Premier Hotel with presentations on key wildlife issues in Montana. We will have presentations on lessons from Yellowstone for wolf management In Montana, an update on avian flu in Montana, the importance of instream flow to maintain our cold-water fisheries, beaver conservation and management in Montana, and the path forward for grizzly bears. We will also host a one-hour panel discussion by legislators on the 2023 legislative session with discussions on important bills passed by the legislature that impact elk hunting, habitat conservation, Habitat Montana, predator management, and access issues. This legislator panel discussion will include an opportunity for questions from the audience.
This conference on Saturday starts at 9 a.m. and is open and free to the public so please plan to attend. The day will conclude at 4 p.m. with the 2023 MWF awards. There will be awards presented to the MWF affiliate of the year, the 2023 outstanding conservation leader, a special achievement award for landowner/sportsman relations, two agency employee conservation awards, the Les Pengelly Award for conservation excellence, and the unsung hero award. We really encourage everyone to attend to recognize these Montana conservation leaders.
Hopefully, spring will arrive soon, and we can start putting away our skis, getting our boats ready for the season, and dusting off our backpacking and fly-fishing gear as the weather warms. I hope to see you at the MWF wildlife conference on April 15 in Helena. Watch the livestream HERE.