Members of the Montana Chapter of BHA had their work cut out for them this legislative session in Montana.
In less than 90 days, 1,313 bills were introduced in Helena, with more than 300 of them working their way through the entire process and being signed into law. One attack after another was directed on our way of life, public access, quality habitat and equitable opportunities to hunt a public resource.
The chapter sunk its teeth into more than three dozen of these bills, engaging in every step of the legislative process. From testifying both in person at the Capitol and remotely to submitting letters to the editor and opinion columns to newspapers, the chapter's stances were made loud and clear. Members were encouraged to make phone calls to state legislators and the hotline in Helena, and some 2,570 sportsmen and women sent a whopping total of 57,942 letters to Montana lawmakers urging them to consider the voices of Montana’s sporting community – again, all in just four short months. The chapter cohosted a virtual rally for public lands, participated in a vehicle parade around Helena and talked with legislators and press on the steps of the Capitol about the importance of conservation funding, public lands and waters habitat, public access and equitable opportunity, and fair chase hunting and fishing.
The impacts the chapter had on this session were great, and a detailed recap can be found here.
This level of engagement could not be possible without years of dedicated fundraising efforts by the chapter (allowing the hiring not one but two lobbyists, billboards across the state, paid ads/post boosts on priority bills, etc.). Additionally, the letters generated via BHA's take action portal illustrate the value of engaged members, robust email lists and significant reach on social media, all things the Montana chapter has consciously worked to grow in the last few years.
Montana's chapter leaders deserve a ton of credit for the volunteer time put in this session, the long nights working on policy statements and the many trips to Helena during regular workdays. If you see Montana chapter leaders at Rendezvous, be sure to buy them a beer and thank them for their efforts.