BHA now has Chapters in 39 states and 2 Canadian provinces, with more coming soon. Each one of these is kicking some serious tail in the name of our wild public lands, waters & wildlife. When one of these Chapters is acknowledged as Chapter of the Month, it's a recognition they should be proud of considering the bar raisin' that's been going on thanks to our 35,000 members across North America.
Which is why I'm super stoked to announce that the Montana Chapter has taken home this honor for April, 2019. And once you read the list of recent accomplishments below, it's hard to argue that the 3,000 members in Montana - led by our Chapter Leaders - have been kicking some serious tail out here in the Big Sky State.
Starting with the Rally for Public Lands, where roughly 2,000 Montanans packed the Capitol Rotunda in support of our public lands and waters, the Montana chapter has really upped their game during the 2019 state legislative session. As the first chapter to hire a government relations specialist, this increased capacity has allowed them to lobby the halls on a daily basis, bring in members to testify at bill hearings and share dozens of action alerts on state issues. They’ve had some big wins in Helena including defeating or amending some bad bills that would have threatened our fair chase hunting traditions, public access, sage grouse habitat and the future of conservation easements in Montana. Additionally, thanks in part to Montana BHA’s support, a number of good bills have progressed that will improve public access and increase funding for our public lands, the state’s aquatic invasive species funding and Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks' automated license system.
In Bozeman, they hosted a turkey calling competition judged by Ryan Michael Callaghan and Janis Putelis of MeatEater and Andrew Whitneyfrom Stone Glacier. To celebrate the passage of S.47, including the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act, the chapter hosted a pint night at the head of the Yellowstone Gateway on the day the public lands package was signed into law. In April they hosted a legislative advocacy training in Kalispell led by former BHA Board Co-Chair Ben Long (following the lead of the BHA's Montana State University Club, which hosted a similar training in Bozeman in February). BHA's University of Montana Club hosted an event with The Trail Head in Missoula that added or renewed 72 BHA members including 13 life members.
In Miles City, a chapter-hosted event added nearly $4,500 to our fundraising goal of $10,000 to install a futuristic gate that will appease the USDA enough to reopen a public access site along the Yellowstone River. There are only a few hundred dollars to go before this project is fully funded! The Montana chapter also sent letters supporting multiple land acquisitions and conservation easements and encouraged FWP to reintroduce sharptail grouse in Western Montana. They also signed up their first state-based corporate partner, Optics Northwest out of Billings, and welcomed three new board members to the team!
Montana BHA is looking forward to an action-packed summer including Montana BHA 2019 Campout; Missoula Beers, Bands & Public Lands Brewfest; and, of course, bringing home the Wild Game Cookoff trophy at Rendezvous!