September 8, 2020
Ashley Taylor, FWP Wildlife Biologist
2300 Lake Elmo Dr.
Billings, MT 59105
RE: Property Purchase to Establish Snowy Mountain WMA
Dear Mrs. Taylor,
The Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers represents roughly 3,000 dues-paying sportsmen and women in Montana who advocate for quality fish and wildlife habitat and ethical conduct in the outdoors. Our Montana Chapter includes many members who hunt and fish in central Montana including the Snowy Mountains.
Montana BHA applauds FWP for initiating the public scoping process to purchase 5,677 acres to protect wildlife habitat and expand public access in the Snowy Mountains; the property would be managed as a wildlife management area. We believe that maintaining public access to quality wildlife habitat is a sound strategy to ensure the future of our beloved Montana hunting and fishing traditions.
This is a shining example of Habitat Montana - a program funded with hunting license fees - being put to good use. Simply put, the value of this property to manage and conserve Montana’s public wildlife, hunting, and access traditions cannot be overstated especially with regard to elk management. Montana has a long tradition of solving complex wildlife management issues with various innovative approaches including habitat acquisition. Now in its 80th year, Montana’s popular wildlife management area system got its start with the Judith River WMA west of the Snowy Mountains. Even though the focus of elk management has shifted from scarcity to abundance, the need to secure elk habitat is just as vital today as it was 80 years ago: conserving habitat is the foundation of sound wildlife management then and now. The proposed acquisition will add a gem to an already world-renowned system of wildlife management areas in Montana.
The Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers offers its enthusiastic support for this extraordinary project. We understand how the process of Habitat Montana-funded land acquisition works and the importance of due diligence. With that, we encourage the department to take every step of the process with the utmost care to ensure the soundness of the purchasing agreement and to sustain the quality of the habitat and the opportunity it affords to wildlife and the recreating public in perpetuity.
To that end, we stand ready to assist FWP to see to it that the new wildlife management area becomes a reality. We appreciate the department for its leadership and dedication to the Montana public and our wildlife heritage.
On behalf of our members, we’d like to say thank you in advance and pledge to be a solid partner. Please don’t hesitate to call on us!
The Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers
John B. Sullivan III, Board Chair, Missoula
Thomas Baumeister, Montana Chapter Capital Leader, Helena
Doug Krings, Central Montana Board Member, Lewistown