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Elections will affect Montana outdoors

Guest opinion: Elections will affect Montana outdoors

Billings Gazette - 5-23-2012

By Dick Paulsen - Executive Director - Montana Wildlife Federation

One of the primary reasons many outdoors-minded persons have chosen to live in Montana is the love of the landscape and the unlimited outdoor opportunities this great state has to offer. Montana is a sought-after destination by many who want to experience the beauty and rich wildlife resources available to all. In this new technological age, and with the greater ability to commute elsewhere, Montana is becoming a popular home base for many. However, many Montanans take for granted what we have today and may not realize that the opportunities we so cherish may not be here tomorrow.

Montana has some of (if not the) greatest variety of, and healthy populations of, fish and wildlife species; most liberal seasons and take for game and fish species; large expanses of public lands, the Block Management Program and the Montana Stream Access Law; significant habitat programs in place for many years; and a core of highly committed sportsmen who want to ensure the future of all of these attributes. Take a look at the list of proposed actions in this past year that could significantly affect what we all currently enjoy.

Outdoor economy

Healthy habitat and populations of fish and wildlife are of significant economic value and should not be overlooked in the economy or considered simply an obstruction/hindrance to better economic ventures. The value of healthy fish and wildlife populations has been steadily increasing while many other ventures have been boom and bust and created significant impacts to the economy and the natural resources. Other uses of our natural resources can occur and not be harmful to fish and wildlife if done properly, recognizing the needs of fish and wildlife. Everyone needs to be cognizant of historical examples of what has been successful in terms of mitigation and what has not.

We need to continue monitoring the many activities happening at the state and federal level that can affect the Montana landscape that we love. Things can happen quickly that impact that landscape and then affect outdoor recreationists and our tourist industry.

Consider the upcoming elections and the respective positions of those running for office regarding our fish and wildlife resources. Contested races include governor; a U.S. Senate seat; U.S. representative; attorney general; secretary of state; state auditor; superintendent of public instruction; 100 state House and 20-plus state Senate seats. All of these elected officials will have a say in the future of our outdoor resources.

250,000 hunt, fish

Approximately 250,000 people in Montana purchase fishing and hunting licenses each year. That represents a significant voting block. The Montana Wildlife Federation encourages greater engagement by all these sportsmen in the future of all outdoor recreation in Montana.

Please give some serious thought to why Montana’s outdoor resources matter to you and why those resources should matter to your friends and neighbors. MWF stands ready to promote and preserve the best that Montana has to offer.

We ask you to not take for granted Montana’s fish, wildlife and our public lands, or our ability to recreate, hunt and fish. There could be big changes ahead if we don’t use caution when we go to vote.

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Public Land/Water Access Association Inc. or PLWA, is a citizen group organized and operated under the Montana nonprofit corporation act.

Articles and Information on this site represent the opinion of the writer and are not intended as legal advice. Legal counsel may be needed in dealing with specific access situations and issues.
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