"And all at once, summer collapsed into fall." - Oscar Wilde
September - Public Lands Month - flew by this year! We hope you had ample opportunity to get out in the field to chase elk with your bow, get your dogs on some points and maybe even enjoy a few fall floats! BHA members from across the country and right here in Montana participated in the Public Land Packout campaign, a self-driven group effort to remove some 10,000 bags of rubbish from our lands and waters.
We participated in two organized cleanups this month, one with the University of Montana BHA Club and one on Public Lands Day. If you've been packing trash out this month, be sure to report your good deeds here to help us reach our goal and capitalize on an offer from First Lite to donate $3 per bag to BHA up to $30,000!
Here's what else we've been up to and what we have on tap as we head full steam into fall:
Fish & Wildlife Issues
FWP hosted listening sessions across Montana this month; we attended most of these and joined other hunters and anglers in expressing some of our concerns, namely the direction the department and the commission appear to be headed on issues like elk management, shoulder seasons, the privatization of our public wildlife, and more (the Commission recently granted limited-entry elk permits to the Wilks Brothers too).
The final FWP open house was scheduled for Tuesday the 28th in Helena, but it was canceled and is to be rescheduled. We'll keep you posted when we hear more.
In the meantime, we encourage you to review a plethora of hunting changes being proposed by FWP. You can submit comments on these directly on FWP's website or by email, and we encourage you to flag any of your concerns with us by emailing the Chapter.
On Wednesday, October 6th from 12-1pm, Montana BHA is participating in an online roundtable with members from the Upper Missouri Waterkeeper, the Fishing Outfitters Association of Montana, the Big Hole Lodge and aquatic ecologist David Stagliano to discuss the need for a cold-water fisheries task force. We hope you can tune in. Many of you have already signed a petition asking the Governor to stand up for our rivers, our angling opportunities and the businesses who rely on them. If you haven't already, please take a few seconds to sign here.
We doubled our staff support! Believe it or not, Montana BHA is mostly volunteer run. We've added a second staff member recently and we couldn't be more thrilled about it. Veronica Corbett is our new Montana Chapter Organizer based out of Billings, MT. Please help us welcome Veronica by shooting her an email! She's anxious to hear of any issues in your neck of the woods or ways you'd like to be more involved.
Here are some more quick hits from our involvement in the last few months:
- We partnered with the Great Burn Conservation Alliance to pull invasive weeds deep in the wild backcountry of the Great Burn proposed wilderness
- We packed out some 540 pounds of garbage from the Flathead River near Columbia Falls
- We added a few state-based corporate partners including Genuine Ice Cream in Bozeman, CD Fishing USA and Lucca Scariano with Edward Jones in Missoula
- We submitted comments expressing our concerns over an outfitter's proposal to increase their permitted BLM acreage 3,433% in a move the BLM is claiming should be exempt from NEPA analysis
- We took a stand for wildlife and asked for priority grazing and haying privileges for our neighbors enrolled in Block Management
- We rewarded a Montana BHA member with $500 for reporting information that led to a conviction of blatant and damaging illegal OHV use
- We pulled a bunch of fence in antelope country to help with pronghorn migrations
- We partnered with the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation to clear some trails and spray invasive weeds in the Bob
- We asked FWP to rethink their strategy of pheasant stocking and take a more targeted approach with an eye on careful elk management when it comes to implementing the new muzzleloader seasons
As you can tell, it's been a busy July, August and September! If you're supportive of our efforts, remember that we can always use more help, more action takers and more members. BHA is offering a member incentive campaign right now where any new/renewing members who sign up at this link will get a free hat! But you have to act quick! The offer expires soon.
Recipe from the Backcountry
With Montana's general waterfowl season starting October 2nd, we figured it was a good time to share this Field to Table recipe from Montana BHA member Julie Mackiewicz, with special assists from Pondo the black Lab! Click here to make an easy yet delicious wild Duck/Goose Confit!
Best of luck this fall and please continue to engage and share your pics from the field with us! Tag @montanabha on Instagram and use hashtag #MontanaBHA to be featured!
Safe hunting this fall,
The Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers
Learn more about the Montana Chapter of BHA: