Here's a quick(ish) recap of what Montana BHA was able to accomplish in 2022, and what's on our minds as we head into the new year:
Along with other sportsmen's groups, we took legal action to defend elk hunting and protect science-based wildlife management in Montana. Learn more at KeepElkPublic.
Speaking of elk, we led the charge during the biennial season-setting to make sure that equitable hunting opportunities remain in Montana and that the state doesn’t turn into an unlimited free-for-all that would benefit only those who control access to private lands, but hardly solve any real elk management issues. Additionally, we helped shape and provided lengthy comments on each of the 15-elk related recommendations put out this fall, and offered productive comments to FWP during their elk management plan scoping. Our work on elk continues as we head into the 2023 legislative session. Stay tuned for more.
On behalf of the public’s interest, we’re appealing the District Court's decision in the Crazy Mountains. And while our defense of public trails plays out in court, we’re now opposing a Land Swap in the East Crazies that would have detrimental impacts to public access and leave the public getting the short end of the deal; learn more here and provide your comments by the December 23rd deadline.
We championed two acquisitions in front of the Land Board - the Big Snowy Mountains WMA and an addition to the Mount Haggin WMA. Both were approved, but each took a lot of work to get there; Montana BHA and our members were a big part of those successes.
We repeatedly asked Gov. Gianforte to create a cold-water task force to develop strategies to preserve fish populations and angling opportunities.
Loud and clear, Montanans have opposed the hatched plan to raise and release pheasants. Our work here continues, but we can already point to where the pressure we’ve created has led FWP to look at ways to spend money on habitat improvement rather than pheasant stocking.
To improve hunter behavior, we've offered to increase and match rewards from FWP leading to the conviction of poachers and/or illegal motorized users. The first instance is highlighted in a turkey poaching case. Our board chair also penned an op-ed encouraging hunters to be respectful and ethical.
And finally, we engaged on a plethora of federal legislation like supporting the CWD Research and Management Act, RAWA, North American Grassland Conservation Act, Support the MAPLand Act, Good Samaritan Remediation of Abandoned Hardrock Mines Act, and rejecting the RETURN Act which would remove the role hunters play in Pittman-Robertson funding. Collectively, our Montana members sent 3,558 letters to legislators this year to make their voices heard.
That should be just a warm up for what’s about to come… the 90-day, every-other-year legislative session in Montana begins in just a few weeks. We've already identified some 207 introduced bills and bill draft requests that have to deal with wildlife management, public access, conservation funding and/or fair chase hunting and fishing. This session is gonna be a doozy, and we're gonna need all the help we can get.
Stewardship and Community Building Efforts
Our members crave boots-on-the-ground work that helps give back to the lands and waters they love. These range from cleaning up trash and pulling fence to enhancing wildlife migration corridors and clearing trail to improve access. Montana BHA participated in more than ten public and private lands volunteer work events including the following:
- Built 12 Beaver Dam Analogs (BDAs) on private lands to support sharp-tailed grouse and other native species, and improve water storage for trout
Pulled unnecessary fencing on the CMR to help wildlife migration and removed dangerous fencing on the Bighorn River to improve access for anglers and keep duck dogs safe
- Picked up 2,400 lbs of garbage from an informal shooting area on DNRC lands near Bozeman and teamed up with Madison-Gallatin TU and the Madison River Foundation to clean up trash from the Madison River
Treated a weed infestation in the Scapegoat portion of the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex
- Cleared and improved 4 miles of trail to Carpp Lake in the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness
- And more! View other accomplishments from Montana and other Chapters at BHA's New North America Action Map
After we work hard, we like to play hard and celebrate our wins together. To build community, have fun, and engage members, we hosted more than a dozen events across the state from the Flathead to Billings, and everywhere in between. Here are some highlights:
- Held a General Season Send Off at Sitka Depot in Bozeman with Gastro Gnome Meals and our favorite chef Jaime Teigen
- Co-hosted a CWD Sampling Clinic with MT FWP in the Flathead Valley
- Jammed in Lewistown at our Beers, Bands and Public Lands party
- Tested our public lands trivia knowledge at a Teddy Roosevelt Birthday Party in Billings
- Cheers’d beers and had a blast at pint nights in Helena, Butte, and Missoula
Upcoming Events & Save the Dates!
Jan. 2 - Montana's 2023 Legislative Session starts
Jan. 19 - A Field to Table Experience with Eduardo Garcia & MontanaMex - get tickets!
Jan. 23 - Camo at the Capitol Legislative Session Advocacy Training in Helena
Jan. 24 - Elk Camp at the Capitol in Helena
Feb 18 - MT AFI’s Frozen Fiesta on Georgetown Lake
Feb. 23 - Public Lands Rally in Helena
Mar. 15 - Pre-Rendezvous Pint Night at Cambie in Missoula
Mar. 16-19 -North American BHA Rendezvous in Missoula
Recipe from the Backcountry
Flathead Regional Leader Aaron Agosto recently used his new Burch Barrel to grill up a delicious venison treat. Check out the recipe for his Chimichurri Venison Chops here!
Time to Renew!
It's last call on getting a FREE Gerber Downwind when you renew or join BHA! We're only running this amazing deal until the end of the year, so don't hesitate! If you need to check your membership status, head to your member portal!
Happy New Year from all of us at Montana BHA, and thank you for your continued support for our wild public lands, waters and wildlife.
Please continue to engage with us on social and share your pics from the field (or the kitchen!) with us! Tag @montanabha on Instagram and use hashtag #MontanaBHA to be featured!