Putting the "Public" Back In "Public Trust"

"You own some amazing land. You own mountains, deserts, prairies, plains, river-bottoms, woodlands and more."

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Driftwood Outdoors: Protect your public lands in West by Brandon Butler
"You own some amazing land. You own mountains, deserts, prairies, plains, river-bottoms, woodlands and more. Out west, in states like Montana, Wyoming and Colorado, there are hundreds-of-millions of acres of federal public lands that you, as an American, own.

But you won’t for much longer if private sector, special interest groups have their way... Politics is a chess match. You have to know what your opponent is planning to do two or three moves into the future. The politicians in favor of these sales and transfers are not interested in transferring national lands to individual states so they can manage them for forest, fish and wildlife. They know that at the state level they can control legislation that opens these lands up for whatever they wish to do with them. And you can place a real safe bet that it’s not the conservation value of these lands they’re interested in."

Daines’ Habitat-Funding Amendment Fails in Keystone Pipeline Debate
" 'Last year the LWCF celebrated 50 successful years of bipartisan support in protecting some of America’s great public landscapes. Our public lands in Montana are under attack from all sides,' said John Sullivan with the Montana chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. 'We are disappointed with Senator Daines’ attempt to dismantle such a successful public land conservation program. We hope Senator Daines will reverse course and listen to the citizens of Montana.' "

Please email the House Transportation Committee by Monday morning (all their addresses are linked in one email) in support of public access:
HB 286, Hearing on Monday Feb. 2, 3:00 PM, Rm 455
Require roads to remain open during a dispute over legal access (1st email)
HB 304, Hearing on Wednesday Feb. 4, 3:00 PM, Rm 455
Increase penalty for blocking a public road (2nd email)

Glacier Country
Fish Virus Detected in Kootenai River
"Fish-health testing by state fisheries biologists in November detected a virus in wild spawning kokanee salmon in the Kootenai River below Kootenai Falls. It marks the first time the common virus, called infectious hematopoietic necrosis, or IHN, has been detected in state waters, according to Mark Deleray, fisheries manager for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks in Kalispell.

'Montana’s best defense against the destruction caused by invasive species and fish diseases is for anglers and others to get into the "inspect, clean, and dry habit",' Deleray said. 'If we all inspect, clean, and dry our boats, trailers, and fishing gear after each use we have a chance to control the spread of invasive plants, animal and disease by not carrying them from one water to the next,' Deleray said."

Southwest Montana
Nature Conservancy Buys 117,000 Acres Of Plum Creek Land In Western Montana
"Now that the watershed has only one owner, it eliminates that checkerboard pattern you might see on a state forest service map. In some parts of Montana, landowners can change three times in three miles, and the Nature Conservancy’s Bryant says those checkerboards are often  a land management hassle. For example, different landowners can have different priorities for roads."

Yellowstone Country
Buffalo Escape Capture, Death Toll Passes 400
"The last of the first round of captured buffalo have been shipped to slaughter. On Tuesday, with an empty trap, Yellowstone park rangers and Montana Department of Livestock agents mounted their horses and hazed a group of forty-seven buffalo that were migrating towards the hunt zone. There were hunters--most of them treaty hunters--on the landscape actively trying to hunt, but finding very few buffalo...  The horsemen hazed the buffalo into the Stephens Creek trap, which was also baited with hay, intending to capture them and eventually send them to slaughter. The buffalo had other ideas and made a bold escape, running south further away from the trap and the hunt zone, staying wild and free for another day."

Central Montana
Another Land Exchange by Charlie Dennison Pgs. 1 & 5
"Whether or not there is an official land exchange proposal, one thing is certain, Benes said: the BLM will not wait long before moving forward. 'If the Wilks brothers or anyone else can come up with a land exchange proposal in the next three months or so, we’ll entertain it,' Benes said, 'but if we don’t hear anything we will move forward with a road proposal.' James said he is not concerned with the BLM’s timeline, as he is optimistic a land exchange can be put together before the BLM is ready to proceed with an environmental assessment for a road project. Once the proposed land exchange is ready, James said he plans to hold meetings on it in Central Montana."

Despite the BLM Realty Trespass Abatement Handbook regulations which states, "By regulation, a land use authorization or disposal of public lands (i.e., sale or exchange) may not be accomplished until the trespass is resolved."; and despite BLM press releases in Sept. & Dec. stating, "A proposed land exchange to restore access was considered but was determined to be not in the best interest of the American people who have entrusted the BLM to manage their public lands for them."; and despite the Public submitting a petition against trading the Durfee Hills to the Wilks with 1600+ signatures, at which point the  BLM pulls Durfee Hills from a proposed land exchange in April 2014 - BLM's District Manager Stan Benes from the Lewistown Office keeps bringing a land exchange with the Wilks involving the Durfee Hills back up. " 'And the other one is to entertain a land exchange. Again, not necessarily the same one that came up, but if we go to that alternative, we need something that will work. Thats why Im saying we need to get opinions together. Blaine County, Fergus County, the ranchers, the folks may call it collaboration. It can work, but it takes a lot of effort. So we're willing to entertain that exchange thing again and it might well be one of the alternatives. Is that fair, Mike?' "  Why is that?

Please email
State Director Jamie Connell, District Manager Stan Benes  reminding them that the Durfee Hills are a valuable Public Trust and we dont want to trade them away, besides it's against BLM regulations while the Durfees are being investigated.

Missouri River Country
Scientists offer new research on sturgeon
"Scientists with Montana State University and the U.S. Geological Survey have identified dammed reservoirs in the Missouri River as the cause of spiraling pallid sturgeon numbers in the wild, according to a paper published in the journal.

Or more aptly, the dead zones created by the artificial reservoirs that prevent young pallid sturgeon from reaching maturity. The study was built on previous work showing that there was not enough drift distance between the reservoirs for hatched pallid sturgeon embryos before entering the reservoirs in the upper Missouri River."

Southeast Montana
Lessons learned from Montana’s oil spills
"Another lesson of the Yellowstone County oil spill is that the state doesn’t have much authority over pipelines; federal regulators enforce safety standards. However, it is the state’s responsibility to hold those federal agencies accountable. Gov. Steve Bullock, who visited Glendive on Jan. 19, must direct emergency, environmental quality and Fish, Wildlife and Parks staff to monitor the Dawson County spill until all the oil is cleaned up and damage has been repaired.

On the edge of the Bakken oil patch, Glendive has boomed for several years. This disaster should remind Montanans that Glendive’s emergency and public works infrastructure has become inadequate for the larger community it has become. Eastern Montana leaders have asked Bullock and the Legislature for substantial aid in improving sewer and water infrastructure, as well as public safety services. Dawson and its booming neighbors need help urgently, even without a river disaster... There are nearly 10,000 pipeline river crossings in Montana, according to information from the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. The question isn’t whether, but when there will be another spill. Montana must be ready."

BLM & FS raise the 2015 Grazing Fee from $1.35 an AUM to $1.69 an AUM
Study: Livestock Grazing on Public Lands Cost Taxpayers $1 Billion Over Past Decade
"WASHINGTON— A new analysis finds U.S. taxpayers have lost more than $1 billion over the past decade on a program that allows cows and sheep to graze on public land. Last year alone taxpayers lost $125 million in grazing subsidies on federal land. Had the federal government charged fees similar to grazing rates on non-irrigated private land, the program would have made $261 million a year on average rather than operate at a staggering loss, the analysis finds."

The previous Congressional Report in 2012 - Grazing Fees: Overviews and Issues

BLM employee is collateral damage
"Not only was a verbal order given by Worland's BLM management to restrict active documentation of criminal trespass grazing, but they chose to suspend Tim Stephens for seven days without pay for accepting sheep trespass data gathered by a cooperating agency. Now, the arrogant BLM managers are vindictively trying to ruin Tim's 24-year career, dedicated to protecting and improving management of our public lands, with issuance of a letter of reprimand for insubordination.

Hopefully, this painful saga will be civilly resolved by someone of competence in BLM to benefit Tim Stephens and the bighorn herd, and will result in creation of a mutually beneficial relationship with the rancher that leads to improved management of our public lands."

Study faults public-land grazing fees

"A new analysis  has found a widening gap between the taxpayer-subsidized rates that ranchers pay to graze their livestock on public land and the higher fees charged by private landowners...
The study found that taxpayers have lost more than $1 billion over the past decade on the grazing program, including a $125 million loss last year. Total federal appropriations for the Forest Service and BLM grazing programs in fiscal 2014 were $143.6 million, while grazing receipts were only $18.5 million... According to the study, there are about 800,000 livestock operators and cattle producers in the United States. Of those, fewer than 21,000—or 2.7 percent of the nation’s total livestock operators—benefit from the Forest Service and BLM grazing programs in the West."

'Like spokes on a wheel': Researchers map elk migrations in Greater Yellowstone
"Efforts since 2013 to map elk migrations in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem will provide researchers some of the most detailed information on how nine herds in three states use one of the West’s iconic landscapes."

Hunters and anglers organize against land transfers
"Just a few years ago, bills to transfer federal lands to state and private ownership seemed like little more than symbolic protests from restless right-wing lawmakers. But as proponents of land transfers in Utah, Arizona, Montana, Idaho and other Western states gained political momentum and public support, hunting and fishing groups that oppose transfers began to take the proposals more seriously. And now, they are launching a remarkably unified PR-counterattack."

My daily creed:
“There three kinds of people in this world”
1 People who make things happen
2 People who watch things happen
3 People who stand there and say What happened

I make things happen! Or at least at the end of the day I can say I tried!" - Dan Wildin, Billings, MT

I would like to thank the following contributors for supporting EMWH. Your gift is very much appreciated.
Dan Wildin, George

Thank you,
Kathryn QannaYahu


Wildlife &


Bozeman, MT

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