Montana News

Montana BHA's Annual Letter

Greetings Fellow Montana BHA Member!

It has been another great and busy year for the Montana Chapter of BHA. In an effort to keep all members informed of what we have been up to we want to share a list of some of our major activities in 2013 and early 2014.  Many of the projects are ongoing while new opportunities are developing  as we write this letter.

  • UAV’s/Drones: MT BHA lead the effort to install regulation preventing the use of UAV’s/Drones in Montana for any hunting or scouting activities. MT BHA worked directly with FWP Law Enforcement Division on the language of the final regulations adopted by Montana Fish and Game Commission action in February 2014.
  • Kootenai National Forest: Filed a formal objection with the Kootenai National Forest regarding their Forest Plan Revision that would allow motorized trails to be established in road-less areas of the Silver Butte-Fisher River.
  • Hi-Line, Miles City and Billings BLM Resource Management Plans Submitted comments on the Hi-Line, Miles City and Billings BLM Resource Management Plans covering 5.6 million acres. We requestedprotecting present wilderness characteristics, improved grazing management to protect riparian areas and woody draws, containment of off road vehicles, and provisions to protect wildlife habitat in oil and gas development.
  • Bison: Supported allowing Yellowstone area bison to utilize public lands north of Yellowstone Park

Montana BHA Shoots Down Drones

Moose monitored by droneOver a year ago MT BHA recognized that rapidly revolving and availability of unmanned aerial vehicle (drones) technology threatened fair chase hunting.  GPS and real time cameras, including infrared cameras can easily be attached.  Drones are more common and cheaper than ever.  They can be easily flown at night to scout for hunting the next day.  They can be used to move wildlife to aid hunting.  We have seen too often that delaying regulating technology leads to no action by agencies, and traditional hunting is further eroded. 

We had little time to spare as the following videos demonstrate the drone technology was soon-to-be flying over the horizon.

Moose youtube.

Geese youtube.

Hogs video.


So Montana BHA worked for the last year with FWP law enforcement on wording specific to UAVs or drones that was ironclad and clear. 

Letter: Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act

Lamstrom Reef hunt cropped-compressedThe following letter was submitted for publication to the Missoulian on December 5th.


The Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act has just taken another big step towards the finish line, guided by the leadership of Senator Max Baucus. Clearing a key Senate committee marks the furthest this legislation has ever advanced and positions it well for being passed by the Senate. If protected, this landscape will remain the iconic vista we all treasure as Montanans, as well as will continue to be used for grazing and other traditional uses.

This type of positive movement is giving us some faith that members of Congress are coming to their senses and hearing the clamoring of everyday Montanans and other Americans for locally generated, bipartisan solutions. The Heritage Act is important legislation for Montana sportsmen and is supported by twenty sporting groups and backcountry organizations around the state, including Montana Backcountry Hunters and Anglers.

Montana Outdoors Organizations Praise LWCF Proclamation

Montana Outdoors Organizations Praise LWCF Proclamation

HELENA – Montana sportsmen and women are praising the Montana Fish & Wildlife Commission for today’s proclamation in support of Senator Max Baucus’ bill to reauthorize the Land & Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

The LWCF uses offshore oil leases—not taxes—to invest in state and federal parks, trail systems and waterways.  In Montana, the Fund is used for everything from Fishing Access Sites to making public land more accessible.

In their proclamation, fish and wildlife commissioners also called for full federal funding of LWCF to the tune of $900 million per year.  Over the years, more than $17 billion has been diverted from LWCF to pay for unrelated spending.  This year the U.S. House of Representatives zeroed out funding from the LWCF.

“The Commission knows well that The Land & Water Conservation Fund is responsible for over 70 percent of Montana’s Fishing Access Sites and has been used in a number of recent conservation easements and acquisitions that increase the public’s access to public resources,” said Skip Kowalski, president of the Montana Wildlife Federation. We’re extremely grateful to our Fish & wildlife Commission for taking a stand in favor of increased public access to public land & water. and the sustainable, growing economy that revolves around bountiful, responsible access. ”

The Fish and Wildlife Commission’s proclamation notes that access to public water, wildlife and land helps “ensure a vibrant, economically resilient sector of Montana’s economy.”

According to the Outdoor Industry Association, outdoor recreation is responsible for pumping more than $5.8 billion into Montana’s economy every year.  It also supports more than 64,000 jobs in the Treasure State.

“This bill is a common sense approach to expanding public access to the land Montanans hold dear without asking taxpayers for a dime,” said Baucus, who has been a stalwart supporter of LWCF through his 35 years in the Senate.  “Outdoor heritage fuels our economy and supports jobs – investing in it today will pay dividends over the long haul.”

Baucus has said passing his Land and Water Conservation Authorization and Funding Act is one of his top priorities to accomplish before his final term ends in 2014.

What Montanans are saying about the importance of the LWCF:

  • “Access in Montana is controversial. Some places see roads gated, locked off from the public who have a right to access these places. When programs like the Land and Water Conservation Fund are actually funded, our ability to access public lands increases. Places like the Marshall Block WMA, Fish Creek WMA & many of our state parks have benefited from the Land & Water Conservation Fund. Montanans have been directly affected by the wise use of these funds to increase access to public lands in places like the Tenderfoot Drainage of the Belt Mountains and the purchase of the Marshall Block & Fish Creek Wildlife Management Areas in western Montana,” -John Gibson, President of the Public Land and Water Access Association
  • “The middle of hunting season is a good time to recognize the importance of the Land & Water Conservation Fund. Many hunters will enjoy access and quality habitats provided by LWCF & not realize it. LWCF is one of the most important access programs in Montana for carrying on our sporting heritage. This bill needs to pass.  The Fish & Wildlife Commission has made a sound financial decision as well as one that helps people enjoy their public lands” -Land Tawney, President of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers
  • “It’s important to recognize that programs like LWCF have been utilized to increase access to public lands as well as conserve some our most important wildlife habitats along the Rocky Mountain Front, Upper Blackfoot, Gallatin National Forest, Belt Mountains and many other places in Montana.  LWCF has been a huge success in Montana. It’s time to finally fund the Fund and keep it going for future generations.” -Dan Vermillion, Chairman of the Fish & Wildlife
  • “Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks depends onthefederal Land & Water Conservation Fund to ensure access to public lands and wildlife. We’ve leveraged LWCF dollars with private funding and hunting license dollars to ensureMontanans will always have places to hunt geese along the Missouri River, mule deer on the Marias, and elk in the Upper Blackfoot. This program meansthat Montana's hunting traditions and local economies will have a bright future. Access matters to Montanans, and LWCF is one of our best tools for new public access to both private and public land." – Jeff Hagener, Director, Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks

Read the full proclamation below:

The Land and Water Conservation Fund(LWCF) is a Federal Programthat was established byan Act of Congressin 1964 to provide funds and matching grants to federal, state and local governments for the acquisition of land and water, and easements on land and water, for the benefit of all Americans. The main emphases of the fund are recreation and the protection of national natural treasures in the forms of parks and protected forest and wildlife areas.

Whereas: Montana’s Outdoor Heritage is vital to the quality of life of our citizens and the United States as a whole.

Whereas: Public Access to public water, wildlife and land help ensure a vibrant, economically resilient sector of Montana’s economy.

Whereas: The Land & Water Conservation Fund has been vital in helping the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks fund operations in State Parks for the benefit and enjoyment of all Montanans and visitors to the Great State of Montana.

Whereas: The Land & Water Conservation Fund is responsible for helping fund the acquisition of approximately 70% of all Fishing Access Sites in Montana.

Whereas: The Land & Water Conservation Fund has been judiciously and efficiently used to ensure future hunting and angling opportunity through the purchase of strategic pieces of land.

Whereas: The Land & Water Conservation Fund has been instrumental in conserving vital habitat for Threatened and Endangered Species, ensuring their eventual delisting and return to State Management.

Whereas: The ability to connect with Montana’s outdoor spaces, publicly owned wildlife, rivers and streams is one of Montana’s greatest assets.

Whereas: the Land and Water Conservation Fund stateside assistance program has greatly improved the quality of life for all Montana citizens through projects on school playgrounds, city parks, increased recreational opportunities in towns and state lands for non-consumptive users,

Whereas: Protecting working landscapes through conservation easements ensures that farmers and ranchers will be able to pass their operations down to their children while preserving Montana’s unique and vibrant landscape.

Whereas: Senators Max Baucus & Jon Tester have long advocated for access to public lands and waters, fought for funding of the Land & Water Conservation Fund, and helped ensure Montana’s economic diversity through their stalwart championship of the Land & Water Conservation Fund.

Therefore, be it resolved in acclimation of the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission acting in regular session on November 14th, 2013 in Helena Montana that the Land & Water Conservation Fund should be reauthorized with no sunset date. Be it further resolved that the United States Congress must fully fund the Land & Water Conservation Fund to the full amount of $900 million per year from offshore mineral leasing royalty without diversion to other programs.

Montana BHA Member Honored with $1000 Grant Award

gayle-joslinGayle Joslin, Montana BHA member, wildlife biologist and lifelong wildlife advocate was recently awarded Leonard and Sandy Sargent Stewardship Award through the Cinnabar Foundation. This award was given Gayle for her lifelong effort on behalf of wildlands and wildlife resources. After 32 years with Montana Dept of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Gayle has continued as a volunteer since 2007.. Having worked with a number of government agencies and their complex planning processes, Gayle generously shares that experience with a variety of non-governmental wildlife conservation groups, advocates and litigators. Much of Helena Hunters and Anglers organization’s efforts has the touch of Gayle’s work.  Montana BHA and Helena Hunters and Anglers, along with Montana Wildlife Federation, Hellgate Hunters and Anglers and Clancy-Unionville Working Group, are currently working together to protect elk security and promote improved travel planning in the Helena National Forest’s portion of the Blackfoot drainage.

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Backcountry Hunters & Anglers seeks to ensure North America's outdoor heritage of hunting and fishing in a natural setting, through education and work on behalf of wild public lands and waters.

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