One of the primary reasons many outdoors-minded people have chosen to live in Montana is the love of the landscape and the unlimited outdoor opportunities this great state has to offer.
Montana is a sought-after destination by many who want to experience the beauty and rich wildlife resources available to all. In this new technological age, and with the greater ability to commute elsewhere, Montana is becoming a popular home base for many. However, many Montanans may take for granted what we have today and may not realize that the opportunities we so cherish today may not be there tomorrow/
• Some of (if not the) greatest variety of, and healthy populations of, fish and wildlife species;
• The most liberal seasons and take for game and fish species;
• Large expanses of public lands;
• The Block Management Program and the Montana Stream Access Law;
• Significant habitat programs in place for many years; and
• A core of highly-committed sportsmen who want to ensure the future of all of these attributes.
It should be a real wake-up call to many to look at the current list of proposed actions in this past year that could significantly affect what we all currently enjoy.
Healthy habitat and populations of fish and wildlife are of significant economic value and should not be overlooked in the current economy or considered simply an obstruction/hindrance to better economic ventures.
The value of healthy fish and wildlife populations has been steadily increasing while many other ventures have been boom and bust and created significant impacts to the economy and the natural resources.
Other uses of our natural resources can occur and not be harmful to fish and wildlife if done properly, recognizing the needs of fish and wildlife. Everyone needs to be cognizant of historical examples of what has been successful in terms of mitigation and what has not.
One of the things I have learned while working with the Montana Wildlife Federation is the need to continue monitoring the many activities happening at the state and federal level that can affect the Montana landscape that we love. Things can happen quickly that impact that landscape and then affect outdoor recreationists and our tourist industry.
Consider the upcoming elections and the respective positions of those running for office regarding our fish and wildlife resources. Contested races include governor; a U.S. Senate seat; U.S. congressman; attorney general; secretary of state; state auditor; superintendant of public instruction; 100 state House and 20-plus state Senate seats. All of these elected officials will have a say in the future of our outdoor resources. Approximately 250,000 people in Montana purchase fishing and hunting licenses each year and that represents a significant voting block. The MWF encourages greater engagement by all these sportsmen in the future of all outdoor recreation in Montana.
Please give some serious thought to why Montana’s outdoor resources matter to you, and why those resources should matter to your friends and neighbors. MWF stands ready to promote and preserve the best that Montana has to offer.
(Dick Paulsen is executive director of the Montana Wildlife Federation in Helena.)