Putting the "Public" Back In "Public Trust"

"It is your responsibility to advocate for your community"

Wildlife has thrived in wake of the Waldo Canyon fire (Bighorn Sheep)
Those of you in Montana may be asking, "Where's Waldo?" Where Waldo is, is not the point of inclusion in this newsletter, as what happened in Waldo, specifically to the wildlife.
"As unbelievable as it may be, given the large-scale destruction of the Waldo Canyon fire, wildlife has more than just bounced back. Bighorn sheep and other large game animals are thriving in the wake of the 2012 fire, say officials from Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the U.S. Forest Service...

This often happens after wildfires, they said. Quesada added that there has been an influx of woodpeckers to the area as decaying trunks have become infested with insects. 'Certain species respond really well to that type of disturbance,' he said."

For more information - Fire as a Habitat Management Tool

Dont forget the Montana Rally For Public Lands
Unfortunately I will probably not be able to join the Public at this rally, as the concussion, though healing, does not mix so well with loud sounds or lots of noise, which I expect at a rally. :) But I do feel that a strong show of support is necessary to make statements that we, the Public, are fighting against the special interest agenda to steal our Public Lands. These are the same people that scream about "over reach" or "eminent domain" from the Federal government, yet they, hypocritically, are attempting just that on a much more massive scale, just flipped, to take from the Public, to give to the special interests. Roosevelt referred to them as "selfish men or greedy interests." So grab your "big sticks" and let your voices be heard.
This is our land!

February 16th, High Noon 
Montana State Capitol. Second Floor Rotunda
Bus information
Click image to enlarge

Legislator Kary is not a game biologist
"Kary's bills, one to remove the word public from the game damage statutes (SB120) and the other to legislate late season cow elk hunts (LC1186 - SB245), which were commonplace and didn't work prior to 2003.

Montana citizens, especially Senate District 22, should rise up and slap down these two pieces of bad legislation. They are nothing more than attempts to privatize and commercialize our public trust resource. And to top it all off, Kary was very arrogant and condescending explaining his bills, not a manner in which an elected official should act with their constituents — the Montana citizens."

SB 120 is currently tabled, but SB 245 is scheduled for a hearing on Tuesday, the 10th. Please email the Senate Fish & Game Committee before then, opposing the privatizing of our wildlife. Our elk should not be managed by landowner special interest biopolitics, but by proven biological science, by the evidence.  Please oppose this bill,
  1. Which changes "population estimates", which ebb and flow, are migratory, to the more specific, hard line, special interest landowner oriented "sustainable population numbers" they want to draw the line at.
  2. It extends the 5 weeks general season to Feb. 15th  to meet their numbers objective. If landowners have an issue with ungulates eating their hay, they need to go through the Game Damage program, which requires public hunter access and use of the Hunt Roster, not legislate a "post season elk population management hunting season."
  3. It also removes the population objectives of at/below based on habitat established in 2009. Requiring FWP to re-evaluate every year, notifying the public and the EQC before Sept. 1st of each year. Again, the estimate population should be based on habitat, biology, which ebbs and flows. You cannot expect wildlife to remain static like a production factory. What about a hard winter? What about a disease outbreak like EHD? 
  4. And the EQC ARE NOT WILDLIFE BIOLOGISTS! Legislators should not be managing our wildlife through statute, risking special interest politics with potential back room deals wishing to privatize our wildlife. Elk should be managed by our fish & wildlife agency through scientific wildlife management with public input process.
This is the same bs I heard at the Livingston elk brucellosis meetings where  they wanted year round open season on elk, with one rancher/county commissioner saying, "If he's got a pivot, he doesnt need those elk down there. Shoot them at any time, really.

Rush by Montana legislators to seize federal lands baffling
"The whole idea seems to be grounded in some fantasy that, if the state controlled these lands, thousands of loggers and miners would go back to work utilizing every resource that could be cut down, dug or drilled out of these lands. All-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles would be liberated to run roughshod over forest land where they are now prohibited.

And legal challenges to timber sales and mining operations based on existing environmental law would all magically go away.

All this and yet dozens of bills dealing with this issue have been requested by conservative lawmakers in Helena, taking up valuable legislative time and money.

It’s time for a reality check. This movement is going exactly nowhere. Lawmakers need to face that fact and get to work on real problems that can be solved."

Steve Daines: Senate votes not in MT's interests
In January's final week, U.S. Sen. Steve Daines took four votes that shocked Montanans because of their regressive policy positions and their complete lack of public process.

He voted twice against the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which uses offshore oil revenues to fund parks and trails across the country.

He also voted against the Antiquities Act, which enables the president to protect landscapes with special cultural or archaeological values (e.g. our Lewis and Clark Caverns, a national monument before it became a state park).

Finally, Daines voted to strip protections from 27 million acres of public lands without any public input. This measure would have opened up nearly 700,000 acres of land for development in Montana.

Does Daines act according to the wishes of most Montanans? Or, now that he's in the upper chamber, is he following other agendas beyond our state's interests? How else to explain these bad votes?
Good questions from O. Alan Weltzien from Dillon

Glacier Country
Find love and 50 shades of green in Montana
"The new guidebook Frommer's "Places for Passion: The 75 Most Romantic Destinations in the World — and Why Every Couple Needs to Get Away," highlights Montana twice, for Glacier National Park and Whitefish...

The authors wax enthusiastically about our state:

'There are fifty shades of green in Montana from spring through fall: the lighter chartreuse leaves of spring, the darker evergreen shades, and the gray-greens that cover the velvety hills and link the lower landscape to the scrub pines and massive evergreens. This is a land of rushing rivers, fine fishing and endless cattle and horse ranches punctuating the valleys and hills. Not everyone wears a cowboy hat, far from it, but the cowboy ethos is in the air. It lives in that particular Montana twang and in the no-nonsense, friendly way you are likely to be greeted. Much of this world is about cattle, some of it is about timber, and a little about mining (it used to be a lot). But come summertime, tourists flock to Montana. They come to fish, to camp and to hike. They want the whole Western experience...' "

While not Glacier, I took this at the Missouri River Breaks area,
love all of Montana's shades of green!

Southwest Montana
Land lapse: Transfer movement raises fears over public access
"The Nature Conservancy hopes to transition more than 117,000 acres of Plum Creek land purchased near the Blackfoot River last month into public hands. But some now fear the movement to transfer federal lands to state control will result in more private holdings and less public access.

Conservation advocates like TNC, however, are far from entertained. Given the widespread public acclaim garnered by the latest purchase and its predecessor, the 310,000-acre Montana Legacy Project, TNC land conservation specialist Mary Hollow questions just how much public support the transfer of public lands has in the state. She adds that small communities like those along the Blackfoot River are the people who have approached TNC about acquiring private property for public ownership in the first place.

'It’s a very disappointing dialogue in my opinion,' Hollow says. 'It is not well informed, and it’s not locally grown. The last point there is the thing that bothers me the most about it. This is a conversation that’s been generated by the American Lands Council and sold to a legislator to carry. That’s not a Montana way, and that’s certainly not how Montanans operate.' "

Yellowstone Country
Montana, Gallatin County reaping benefit of public lands
"Counties with larger shares of public lands — Gallatin and Flathead among them — attract more jobs and see stronger growth than the rest of the state, the report found.

'If we’re going to continue to see that kind of economic impact, that sometimes we take for granted, we need to make a concerted effort to keep public lands in public hands,' said Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, during his keynote speech Friday for the Haymakers Summit."

Central Montana
Exchanges need to keep best interests of public land users in mind
by Mark Schwomeyer
"We would like you to know that Central Montana Outdoors is a diverse, local group of public land outdoor enthusiasts who are dedicated to working through natural resource related issues with the best interest of the public land users in mind. At this time we are still focused on following through with our petition (1,600 signatures) which stated: 1) stop the land exchange involving the Durfee hills; 2) reestablish a motorized route into the Bullwhacker country in the Missouri River Breaks. We were successful in stopping the Durfee Hills land exchange. Now, all of our focus is on getting the motorized access reestablished into the Bullwhacker country."

Just a reminder, I have updated the 2014 events involved in the
Wilks Fencing Durfee Hills Timeline.
The 2015 events are on the Wilks Fencing Updates.

The BLM just published a new press release on the Bullwhacker access efforts. BLM concludes preliminary Public Scoping Meetings to Restore Bullwhacker Access.
" 'At all four public meetings we heard the public express interest in the BLM revisiting the idea of a land exchange option to restore motorized public access to the Bullwhacker area. We do not have a land exchange proposal at this time, but we would be willing to consider a land exchange proposal that has the support of a working group of interested parties and is broadly favored by the public,' Benes explained." Since when do the Friends of the Monument (the "public" that has been wanting this land exchange) and the Wilks trump 1600+ members of the Public?

How's this for "broadly favored by the public"? A 1600+ signature petition stating we didnt want to give up the Durfee Hills!
As a result, I had to contact the MT BLM FOIA officer handling my FOIA and ask that they expedite at least that portion of my FOIA dealing with previous BLM and Wilks communications of an Anchor Ranch and Durfee Hills trade, as it is now of "compelling need or urgency to obtaining the records."

Missouri River Country
BLM Hi-Line Draft Resource Management Plan

"Of the 2.4 million acres of public land within the Hi-Line BLM District, the BLM identified 386,000 acres as 'lands with wilderness characteristics' (LWCs).  While we appreciate the thorough inventory, we are very concerned that the BLM draft plan only commits to keeping 11,000 acres, or about 3% of the LWCs as they are.



The lack of balance could not be more evident.



We need your help today to ensure access to our public lands for a wide variety of recreation activities and the long term protection of our Montana way of life by conserving the best of our prairie lands for future generations. Email State Director Jamie Connell at BLM_MT_HiLine_RMP@blm.gov today!"

Ice halts oil spill cleanup efforts on Yellowstone River

GLENDIVE -- Clean up efforts in the wake of an oil spill in the Yellowstone River near Glendive have been suspended due to weather conditions.

The biggest obstacle is ice. A spokesman with Bridger Pipelines confirms the stalled cleanup effort. Officials expect weather conditions to inhibit recovery efforts for at least a month, until temperatures warm up...

Bridger Pipeline LLC emphasized that their goal hasn't' changed, and that it remains committed to recovering as much oil as possible to decrease the environmental impact.

Southeast Montana
Oil pipelines are going to keep breaking in rivers by Alexis Bonogofsky
"On the second day of July in 2011, I walked down to my hay fields to see if the Yellowstone River had flooded its banks. It had -- but so had crude oil leaking from Exxon’s Silvertip Pipeline, which runs underneath the river upstream from my farm south of Billings, Montana...

Here are some of the hard-earned lessons that landowners like me learned about pipeline oil spills:..

You have to be your own advocate. You need to do research, go to public meetings and ask tough questions. It can be hard to confront people, and that is especially true in smaller communities. It is your responsibility to advocate for your community and to be a voice for the people who can’t, or won’t, speak out...

Both of the recent oil spills in the Yellowstone River were preventable. Yet oil spills will keep happening to communities all over the West until politicians on both sides of the aisle decide to take pipeline safety seriously and not just pay lip service to the changes needed in oversight and regulation of oil companies.

Until then, we’re on our own."

USDA Releases 2012 Planning Rule Final Directives for National Forest System Land Management Planning
The final planning directives, effective January 30, 2015, are now available. These directives are the key set of agency guidance documents that direct implementation of the 2012 planning rule. The Agency’s goal is to ensure an adaptive land management planning process that is inclusive, efficient, collaborative and science-based to promote healthy, resilient, diverse and productive National Forests and Grasslands. The final directives will support consistent approaches to achieving the broad goals of the 2012 planning rule.
2012 Planning Rule Final Directives

All outdoorsmen should care about federal lands bill
From Earl DeGroot, Cheyenne, WY
(I am printing this out in entirety because this is a realistic scenario. I grew up Republican, now vote independently and my main voting issue is our Public Trust. Yet I know people who voted party politics this last November, hear them now complaining over their elected officials and how they are voting on outdoor issues, upset, betrayed. When more people care about voting for American Idol, rather than the 2014 elections, when more people care for a fabricated political party system rather than the fabric of our outdoors, and when elected officials are not representing the majority of their constituents, we have a serious disconnect problem with our culture and our citizenship.)

I am surprised that there have not been more letters regarding the legislative proposal to transfer federal land to the state. I know there are sportsmen, like me, who are dead set against it.

Perhaps many think this is just a crazy idea that won't go anywhere. After all, we have had several legal experts indicate it would be hard to force the feds to turn over these lands. But what if the government decided to give the land to the state? You don't think this is likely?

Consider this.

In their 2014 winter meeting, the Republican National Committee passed a resolution calling for the government to turn over federal lands to the states. The resolution states in part: "Resolved, that the Republican National Committee calls upon all national and state leaders and representatives to exert their utmost power and influence to urge the imminent transfer of public lands to all willing western states for the benefit of these western states and for the nation as a whole."

As a long-time Republican, I feel betrayed by this resolution.

As of January, Republicans controlled the U.S. Senate and House. Many predict that, due to unhappiness with some of Barack Obama's policies, Republicans are poised to win the presidency in 2016. After 2016, it is conceivable that a Republican-controlled Senate, House and presidency could propose to give federal lands to the state.

If you are a hunter, fisherman, ATVer, snowmobiler or other recreationist, you should be concerned where this is headed. The people who want to take control of your federal lands plan to develop consumptive resources while paying only lip-service to recreation.

Let's nip this in the bud at the state level before it gets to the federal level. Please contact the Legislature and Gov. Matt Mead and ask them to put an end to this unconscionable action."

Effort to protect domestic sheep industry in Wyoming passes Senate panel
"The bill is a response to the Forest Service's decision to limit domestic sheep grazing in Idaho's Payette National Forest. The Forest Service said the move is an attempt to save bighorn sheep populations from diseases carried by domestic sheep in that area...

'The last thing we want to do in Wyoming is get in a big fight,' Hicks said. 'This will result in the physical removal and most likely the death of all of those bighorn sheep. We don't want to embrace that.'

The legislation passed committee unanimously with an amendment requiring the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to take actions only considered within the state's sheep plan."

Migrations serve as Yellowstone’s lungs by Todd Wilkinson
"What water represents as a circulatory system, wildlife migrations serve metaphorically as Greater Yellowstone’s pulmonary system, 'showing how it breathes,' Middleton said.

Elk herds moving between seasonal ranges are akin to lungs inhaling and exhaling, he explained. GPS collars, genetic tools, overflights and remote cameras have helped open the eyes of scientists to understand precisely how, why and where animals use landscapes. Like brothers John and Frank Craighead’s work tracking grizzly bears through radio telemetry a half a century ago, migration study is one of the next great frontiers."

Sportsmen's Act of 2015
There are some plus and minus' to this package, as with all package deals.
PDF of Sportsmen's Act of 2015

Concerning the BLM Bullwhacker Access preliminary scoping -
"I had another commitment that I would have canceled if I had known that Mr. Benes was going to bring  up the exchange again. I feel a bit blindsided. It doesn’t seem that Benes is really working for the Public. It appears he has some other agenda to satisfy. "- John a local avid outdoorsman hunter

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

Ward and Gloria Olson

Thank you,
Kathryn QannaYahu


Wildlife &


Bozeman, MT

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