Putting the "Public" Back In "Public Trust"

"Brenden's ugly power politics of using
MTFWP / public hunting vs. ranching private property rights
is just the right context to illustrate his fantasy
of governing by feudalism in the 21st century.
- KM


This last week I have been to 11 meetings in 10 days. Some highlights of a few meetings are below, but I need to fully write up this elk shoulder season bs with its documentation in the next couple of days, which will take more space than a general newsletter.

  • I went to a specific county, ordered and purchased a big map of the county roads, public and private, for a private landowner illegal access blocking project I will send out in a few days. There are over 7 sites in this county that I will begin documenting.
  • Public Lands Water Access Association had their annual meeting here in Bozeman last Saturday. Dale Spartas and I have been appointed by the Board to head up a Bozeman Chapter (Gallatin Valley/Livingston) of PLWA for boots on the ground and local involvement. For those (all ages, especially you Gen Xers and Millennials) that appreciate access to our public lands and waters, whether you hunt, fish, hike, camp, mountain bike, etc., and are interested in participating, please send an email with contact information and we will get in touch with you. Look forward to building a broader membership of public access advocates in the area.
  • Helena for the EQC meeting on June 4th, in which FWP Dir. Hagener was to address the FWP FTE cuts that targeted the bison position and 40 yr. FWP employee Arnie Dood. Video: At 4:15:34 Dir. Hagener addresses the FWP FTE cuts, at 4:30:51 the public comment begins with Dyrck Van Hyning from Great Falls, Kathryn QannaYahu of EMWH, Harold Johns the new president of Skyline Sportsmen from Butte who was speaking for himself and Gail Richardson from Bozeman. At the 4:56:9 Sen. Phillips questions Dir. Hagener about this bison position cut. Thank you to all who could not make it and sent in letters to the EQC. Interestingly, just as Dir. Hagener began addressing this subject and our following public comments, Sen. Brenden left the room. After our public comments when they adjourned, 3 of us went downstairs to the cafeteria for lunch and passed Sen. Brendan coming back up. He was not in the room when I asked the rhetorical question if his public threats that we were going to pay the consequences, if this bison position cut and Arnie Dood in particular, were part of those consequences? But more importantly, it is on the public record.
  • Update on the Native Species Biologist Bison position and Arnie Dood - When I was at the Yellowstone National Park Bison Scoping Meeting (information in the Yellowstone section below) on the 2nd, I asked Region 3's Wildlife Chief, Howard Burt, if he had received my email requesting the job description of the brucellosis technician offered to Arnie Dood. He said that they did not have that job description finalized yet, it would be by July 1st. I asked how FWP could offer Arnie a job that the description and pay would not be finalized on until July 1st when the draft letter he was given notifying him of the termination of the bison position stated that he had till June 15th to make a decision and if he did not accept this position he would be terminated? Howard didnt know, said that I should speak with Ken McDonald who served the letter to Arnie. As yet, FWP still has not provided a finalized job description with pay to Arnie Dood. Their position, stated by Hagener at the EQC is, "It's a personnel issue and we're working on it."
  • On Thursday the 11th, I attended our Region 3 office for the FWP Commission meeting to speak on the Elk Shoulder Season debacle, as well as the bison quota issue. The whole of the wildlife division meeting was slated for 9:55-1:15. We did not get finished with the first issue - elk shoulder season, until about 1:30. Commissioners Tourtlotte and Vermillion asked a number of great questions. Originally FWP proposed that there be a 30 day public comment period and the Commissioners moved for a 60 day thankfully. Elk Shoulder Season Audio: 1:51:15 began the public comment period with Senator Kary (SB 245) opening, 1:55:20 Rod Bullis from Helena, 1:56:41 Brian McCulloch Helena, 2:00:15 Ron Wetch (sp?) rancher in Region 2, 2:09:48 Nick Gevock for MWF,  2:12:30 Jay Bodner for Montana Stock Growers Association, 2:19:26 Paul Ellis Sunday Creek Outfitters Bozeman, 2:26:58 JW Westman for Laurel Rod & Gun Club and Montana Sportsmens Alliance, 2:36:14 Kathryn QannaYahu Enhancing Montana's Wildlife & Habitat. Some of the controversy of the SB 245 conversation is already occurring with this shoulder season proposal, including a statement of "traditional" hunters. 
  • Also passed at the Commission meeting was the release of the Draft EIS, Bison Conservation and Management in Montana, which has issues right away. One, Arnie Dood as the bison biologist involved in much of the scoping and author of the Bison ecology book for FWP should have been heavily involved in this EIS and wasnt, which may explain another obvious issue - that of the alternatives provided, which are all a direct production of the FWP bison Working Group (I attended and took audio of the meetings) which was heavily stacked with ag interests. So where are the alternatives produced from all the other comments that were submitted by the PUBLIC and the science? In April, an earlier draft was sent out, which showed Alternative 4 specific to the CMR area of public lands, which is what that sub group produced. On April 3rd, Sen. Taylor Brown, one of the working group members and an ag rep replied, objecting to the specific location, "My concern is that the attached EIS Update lists the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge as a 'Montana Site that Appears to Fit the Sideboards of Alternative #4'. I would question whether that is the case." As a result of Sen. Browns email objections after public comments had ended, the site specific aspect of Alternative #4, which he was not a part of the subgroup that produced it and presented it during the work groups, brought about a change in the draft that is supposed to serve the public, not just his special interests. Once again, special interest ag legislators are interfering with the public process involving our Fish, Wildlife & Parks. If he didnt like Alternative # 4, then Sen. Brown didnt have to choose it when he submits his public comments, but he has denied the rest of the Montana Public the opportunity to advocate Alternative #4, which previously was site specific. I will get his letter and the screen shot of the earlier version online soon.

If you would like to further this work and research,   please click to contribute to EMWH.

You’ve probably never heard of the Wilks brothers. They’re about to take away your property rights.
"It should come as no surprise that there was big oil money behind the new Texas law that stops local government from regulating oil and gas. What might shock you is that the same money is about to be used for the same purpose in Montana...

Will you be surprised when the Wilkses fund a 2017 legislative effort in Helena to strip local communities of their right to regulate what happens on their own land?

You shouldn’t be. They’re already hard at work getting it done. In 2012, just after they started to purchase Montana land, the Wilks brothers and their wives were the largest individual contributors to Montana state legislators. According to the National Institute on Money in State Politics, they contributed a collective total of $51,040. Each of them gave to more than 70 candidates, all Republicans, and in most instances, they each gave the maximum allowed by law.

Time to wake up folks. They’ve bought and paid to have your rights taken away by the Montana Legislature, just like they did in Texas."

Access Needs a Second Act
"If you’re comfortable leaving the fate of our hunting and fishing traditions in the hands of the same dudes who nearly brought down our economy in the last decade, then by all means join with Montana Sen. Jennifer Fielder of Thompson Falls, the American Legislative Exchange Council and the United Property Owners of Montana. They are all devout opponents of the Montana tradition of hunting and fishing on public lands.

But if you think these traditions are worth fighting for, then I don’t think you can afford to stand on the sidelines much longer. The privatizers got their heads handed to them in the last Montana legislative session, but they are not going away."

Groups bring private hunting schemes to Montana
"The welfare queens of wildlife have made their way into Montana, hiding behind sage grouse, a way to push their agenda of private hunting and fishing. The culprits, the fattest hogs at the government entitlement trough when it comes to wildlife groups with clever names like Big Game Forever and Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife...

Now BGF has a staffer in Montana and is making the rounds to sporting shows, talking about sage grouse. What’s omitted is the fact that Gov. Steve Bullock’s sage grouse conservation plan just passed with bipartisan support, and we’re preparing real, on the ground conservation work to conserve this native bird.

Wake up Montanans, pay attention to these two groups, working to bring their private hunting schemes to our state."

Taking on Ivory: Attorneys general asked to investigate lands transfer leader
"Weismann, who worked at the U.S. Department of Justice and the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington prior to founding the Campaign for Accountability this spring, doesn't feel the lack of Montana taxpayer money going to the ALC—and, subsequently, into Ivory's pocket—makes her case for an investigation by Attorney General Tim Fox any less strong. Her complaint characterizes Ivory's late 2013 tour through Ravalli, Sanders, Flathead, Mineral and Lincoln counties as one 'paid for with tax- payer funds from dozens of counties in other Western states.' The complaint also claims Ivory 'appears to have committed the offense of solicitation by encouraging others, including Montana State Senator Jennifer Fielder, to solicit funds from Montana officials to fuel the activities of ALC.'

'It certainly is the case that [Montana counties] haven't joined up, but he has tried,' Weismann says. 'And in our view, that's the crime.' "

Glacier Country
Get to know Glacier National Park
Below are free days at national parks. No entrance fee will be charged on these days.

••Aug. 25 — National Park Service Birthday

•Sept. 26 — Public Lands Day

•Nov. 11 —Veterans Day

Southwest Montana
Discussion continues on expanding FWP funding beyond license fees
"A diverse collection of conservation groups sought “common ground” in broadening funding and support for Montana’s wildlife management at a day-long meeting in Helena Wednesday... While the groups acknowledged the array of ideologies and agendas in the room, they did reach a general sense of support for FWP and at least the exploration of alternative funding sources.

'Regardless of your agenda, as long as FWP is at the helm and we can broaden the base of support financially and sustainably, we have an obligation to pass this on to our future generations,' said Marc Cooke, president of Wolves of the Rockies."

Yellowstone Country
Yellowstone Bison Management Plan public comments are due in 2 days.
The link to submit public comments is on the left side of their page. Here is the information flyer with the scoping alternatives. Please consider Alternative 2, which would protect the limited cattle operations that are further away, while respecting these bison as wildlife, at least a step in the direction of the elk. The bison disease genetics is different than that of cattle and elk, which is why there has not been any documented case of wild bison to cattle transmission of brucellosis - ever. A number of the Paradise Valley brucellosis infections are from cattle transmission, not wildlife - none from bison. We need to make wildlife management decisions, not based on politics, but based on the EVIDENCE. It is time to restore wild bison to Montana as wildlife.

Central Montana
The Central Montana Resource Advisory Council will meet July 15th & 16th (3rd column, right side), 920 NE Main, Lewistown, Montana. On the agenda is an update on efforts to restore access to the Bullwhacker area. For more information, please contact Mark Albers, 406-791-7789.

BLM releases travel plan for Belts; motorized users want new campground
"The BLM began accepting public comment June 1 and will continue to do so through July 9 for proposed travel plan alternatives in the Missouri River Foothills Planning Area, which will decide what routes will be open or closed to motorized use. The BLM parcels include a little more than 16 miles of roads, primitive roads and trails currently open to motorized use. The plan contains one no-action alternative that would maintain the status quo, and three action alternatives newly designating several routes as open, closed or restricted seasonally."

Missouri River Country
"Can Wildlife-Friendly Beef Help Ranchers And Conservationists Get Along?
Fifth-generation Montana rancher Michelle Fox remembers once reading a passage from the journals of Lewis and Clark. The explorers were describing a spot located near where her tribal reservation is today—the view, back then, was 'black with buffalo,' Fox, a member of the Gros Ventre Tribe, recalls. 'I was standing there, and it’s hard for me to envision how it was,' she says... But Fox, whose land adjoins the APR area, is not an opponent, and neither are all ranchers...

At Fox’s ranch, these improvements look relatively simple so far. She’s replaced barbed wire fence with wildlife-friendly fencing, which is smooth at the bottom so elk, deer, and other animals can slip underneath. She’s gotten her children to stop shooting at prairie dogs, a common practice because many ranchers believes the holes they leave are bad for the cows and pastures (though there's some research that shows otherwise). Eventually, her goal is to restore the natural hydrology to her lands as well, rather than using irrigation.

Fox's long heritage on the land has made her feel a personal stake in APR’s conservation mission, but she was still at first apprehensive about joining Wild Sky. In the end, she says, it was a business decision for her and her family. With the extra money she’s gotten in the last year, she’s also been able to improve her barn, build a greenhouse, and generally help her family live more self-sufficiently from the land. After she and her husband made several tweaks to her operation to meet Wild Sky beef standards, their first calf that will eventually be sold as Wild Sky meat was born in March."

Southeast Montana

Speak Up and Oppose the Proposed Tongue River Railroad
"Arch Coal wants to build a massive coal mine in the Otter Creek Valley in southeast Montana. And, in order to send that coal to other places (e.g., foreign markets), Arch Coal and BNSF Railway want to build a new railroad (the Tongue River Railroad) in the same area.

Both the proposed coal mine and the proposed railroad are horrible ideas, and we strongly oppose both proposed projects.

Right now, the Surface Transportation Board is accepting public comments on the recently released draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for the proposed Tongue River Railroad.

The deadline for public comment is August 24th."

US: Exxon must pay $1M penalty for 2011 Yellowstone River spill
"U.S. officials have rejected Exxon Mobil Corp.'s request to reconsider a $1 million penalty imposed against the oil giant over a 63,000-gallon crude spill into Montana's Yellowstone River. The U.S. Department of Transportation on Friday ordered the Texas company to pay the penalty within 20 days."

US agency takes precautions after shots fired near contract employees on public land in Nevada
"The federal Bureau of Land Management is taking safety precautions and Las Vegas police are investigating after gunshots were fired near a group of contract employees on public land in southern Nevada where rancher and states' rights advocate Cliven Bundy's cattle continue to roam."

New Proposal Would Give Western Governors Unchecked Power Over America’s National Forests
"The U.S. Senate is expected to vote in the coming days on a proposal that would give Western governors unprecedented power over the management of national forests and American public lands in their states, including the power to veto plans to restore forest health, reduce wildfire risk, and expand access for hunting and fishing."

"Thanks for all of your hard work.  Makes me sick to think of the money they have and what they are doing with it.  Long live the Sportsman!" - TM

"Kathryn, just got this e-mail now.  wanted to forward to you just in case. 
forgive me for wondering that you have seen it but just want to be sure.
thank you for all of your efforts, this is happening very fast and it scares me - Groups Bring Private Hunting Schemes To Montana link." - T  (this kind of networking of information is what will make a more educated and stronger public, thanks for the heads up, I had not seen it!)

"Nice Job Kat! I always enjoy your tireless effort on my behalf! It is true that we always think someone else will be our voice until our voices are silent ! GET involved take a few minutes to contact your local representatives, drop them a letter or e-mail or call them!

Don’t wait till your favorite spot is gone and it is too late! God knows the soapboxes I have been on and plan to stay there till I die!" - Dan Wildin

"I LOVE your letter, but would really request you NOT use that pale greenish font on white, I am having a terrible time reading it. Of course my 83 year old eyes might be the problem?>??" - Russ Vance  (Russ is the second set of older eyes to have an issue with the spring green color I used for my personal comments, to differentiate my comments from those of the quoted articles, as well as a color psychology reason. So lets try teal in bold to see how that works.) 

"Kat, thanks again for all you do.  The newsletter.....the research....the public document requests....and most of all the processing of all you have acquired as info.  I do worry you will burn out at the pace you have chosen, and we would be much poorer if you withdrew from this frustrating thing called conservation.  Take care of yourself first." - Greg M (I actually recharge from this kind of quality of life pursuit, so I am afraid that conservation is stuck with me. :) )

"First- Thank you, thank you, thank you for EMWH. Your advocacy for the public trust seems inexhaustible.

Was trying to find the retaliatory op-ed Sen. John Brenden wrote just after Gov. Bullock vetoed his bill giving county commissioners final say on bison transplants outside of YNP and stumbled on this article. Maybe you've  already seen it?


Brenden's ugly power politics of using MTFWP / public hunting vs. ranching private
property rights is just the right context to illustrate his fantasy of governing by
feudalism in the 21st century." - KM


I would like to thank the following contributors for helping to support EMWH. Your gift is very much appreciated.
Dale Spartas of DCS Photo
Dr. Bill Mealer ( I owe Dr. Mealer a huge debt for his referral to Dr. Olson in Bozeman whose NeuralField Therapy has been key to my getting my brain back after the accident at the beginning of December, saying, "We've got to get Kathryn's brain back.")

If you would like to further this work and research,
   please click to contribute to EMWH.

Thank you,
Kathryn QannaYahu


Wildlife &


Bozeman, MT

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