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Pine Creek Lake. Photo by Walker Stole
Feb 26 2020

Introducing Wild Montana Action Fund

The Action Fund will lead the movement to compel elected officials and other leaders to protect Montana’s public lands

Announcements

We have some exciting news. 

After months of thoughtful consideration of how we can most effectively meet the increasing challenges we face protecting Montana’s public lands, our board authorized the creation of a sister organization called Wild Montana Action Fund. The Action Fund will bring much-needed capacity to the conservation movement in Montana and further the protection of the wild public lands that make our state so special.

1. What is Wild Montana Action Fund?

Wild Montana Action Fund is a sister organization to MWA with the same mission: to protect Montana's wilderness heritage, quiet beauty, and outdoor traditions, now and for future generations. 

Whereas MWA is designated by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) public charity organization, the Action Fund is a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization, which enables it to conduct a broader range of activities than MWA to fulfill the mission of protecting public lands and wild places. 

2. Why was Wild Montana Action Fund created?

Over the past few years, we have seen unprecedented attacks on our public lands. In 2017, the current administration threatened to shrink and possibly eliminate the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument. While the Breaks was spared, the administration shrank two national monuments in Utah, allowing for industrialization within their former boundaries. Soon after that, Sen. Steve Daines and Rep. Greg Gianforte introduced legislation that would have rolled back protections from nearly 800,000 acres of public lands – the largest conservation rollback in Montana history. 

And that’s just a few of the attacks. We’ve also seen leaders of the land-transfer movement installed at the highest levels of agencies overseeing our public lands. And we’ve already seen those leaders use their power to sell out our public lands to industry. 

Now, more than ever, we need to use all the tools at our disposal to protect the places we love and depend on. Wild Montana Action Fund was created to allow supporters of public lands and wild places to have the tools they need to defend our public lands and wild places from these kinds of attacks.

Wild Montana Action Fund will have the ability to: 

  • Participate in elections, including turning public lands supporters out to vote and providing them with the information they need to make voting decisions that are in the best interest of our public lands and outdoor way of life.
  • Hold our elected officials accountable year-round, including during election season, for the votes they take on public lands. 
  • Mobilize public lands supporters to take action on behalf of our issues at a scale larger than ever before.
  • Elect more decision-makers who support protecting our public lands. 

3. What’s the difference between Wild Montana Action Fund and Montana Wilderness Association?

While the Action Fund’s aims are the same as those of MWA, it has, as a social welfare 501(c)(4) organization, fewer limits on its activities. It can conduct unlimited lobbying, including grassroots lobbying that mobilizes supporters of public lands to contact our elected officials. It can also participate in elections in ways that are prohibited for 501(c)(3), such as supporting or opposing candidates. Because it can conduct these additional activities, donations to Wild Montana Action Fund are not tax-deductible. 

4. What can Wild Montana Action Fund do that MWA cannot?

The Action Fund has tools to build the politics we need for protecting public lands in Montana, including unlimited grassroots lobbying. Whereas MWA can only spend a small portion of its budget encouraging people to contact their elected officials on introduced legislation, the Action Fund has no spending limits. 

In addition, the Action Fund can participate in elections as long as it is not the primary purpose of the organization. Whereas MWA has to be very careful around election time to ensure that any positive or negative communications about elected officials do not seem to be an implicit endorsement of a particular candidate, the Action Fund is free to discuss the history and current positions of candidates on important public land issues right up until election day.

Lastly, the Action Fund can endorse and support candidates for office, again, as long as these political actions are not the primary purpose of the organization. 

5. Who created the Action Fund?

The MWA Board of Directors authorized the creation of a separate 501(c)(4) organization, which was named Wild Montana Action Fund. However, since its creation, the Action Fund has been and will continue to be a completely separate organization from MWA. It will work to support the same mission as MWA but will do so through its own strategic lens and under the guidance of its own board of directors. 

6. What are some of the issues that Wild Montana Action Fund will work on?

Wild Montana Action Fund builds the political power necessary for protecting and conserving public lands and wild places across the state by elevating the voices of Montanans who cherish our outdoor way of life. 

The Action Fund will organize and mobilize our fellow Montanans and supporters of public lands to:

  • Advance legislation that safeguards our public lands
    The Action Fund works within the halls of Congress, at the Montana State Capitol, and in city and county buildings throughout the state to pass legislation that provides long-term protection of our most revered public lands. The Action Fund also works against legislation and government policy-making that would sell out our public lands to special interests and open those lands to unfettered development.
     
  • Protect access to the public lands we cherish
    Every year across the state we see new attempts by the ultra-rich to buy up public lands and block off access that people have enjoyed for generations. The Action Fund will fight to ensure that every person, regardless of wealth, can continue to enjoy the public lands and wild places that make Montana such a special place to live.
     
  • Find solutions for funding our public lands
    Over the last several years, public land management agencies have lost the funding they need to maintain the infrastructure of our public lands. The Action Fund is finding solutions to replenish that funding so that Montanans can pass down the same quality of public land experiences to future generations.
     
  • Hold elected officials accountable when they don’t stand up for public lands
    Year after year, election after election, Montanans of all stripes have made it clear that we love our public lands and expect our elected officials to defend those lands. But many of our elected officials sometimes only pay lip service to protecting our public lands while casting votes that endanger those lands.
     
  • Ensure that public lands supporters are informed and get to the ballot box
    If we want elected leaders who support public lands, it is critical that those of us who love public lands vote in every election. The Action Fund will turn public lands supporters out to vote and provide them with the information they need to make voting decisions that are in the best interest of our public lands and outdoor way of life.

7. Will Wild Montana Action Fund endorse political candidates?

Candidate endorsement is one of the tools the Action Fund can use to build political power. It will not conduct across-the-board endorsements for every office but may endorse candidates when we determine that doing so advances our mission.

8. How can I join Wild Montana Action Fund?

The Action Fund is not a membership organization, but if you would like to join Wild Montana Action Fund in the fight to protect public lands and wild places, you can sign up to receive their communications and donate to support the work. 

9. How can I receive emails from Wild Montana Action Fund?

You can sign up for the Action Fund’s email list at wildmontanaaction.org.