Two Months Down, Two To Go
Taking a moment to check in at the halfway point of the 2021 Montana Legislature
Wednesday, March 3 was the official halfway point of the 2021 Montana Legislature. After two months of rapidfire new bills, hearings, and action alerts, we have a short moment to catch our breath and take stock of what we’ve accomplished thus far, what our priorities are, and what we’re ready to accomplish in the second half of the session.
With a new governor and a committed fringe of anti-public-lands legislators in the Capitol, there’s been a need for constant vigilance and action on behalf of our wild places and public lands.
As usual, you’ve stepped up the plate in a big way. Together, we have called, emailed, or signed petitions over 1,800 times to hold legislators accountable for supporting bad legislation or thank them for advocating for good public lands funding and access bills. Nearly 250 people have signed up to learn how to be a more effective advocate for wild public lands, and over 700 have joined our quick-response team and receive breaking text-message updates about chances to take action.
All told, that means you’ve been part of a movement of nearly 3,000 actions directly related to state policy in just two months (thousands more have taken action on federal policy).
And these numbers are growing every day.
I feel like a broken record, but I really can’t say it enough: we’re blown away by the dedication of folks like you every day, and your commitment to our wild places is so critical to the movement to protect their future. Thank you.
We’ve needed each and every one of you because legislators keep introducing bills that would have crippling consequences for public lands funding, wildlife habitat, public access, and more. You can get the full rundown here (and bookmark the page so you don’t miss any developments), but here’s a snapshot of some of the bills we’re focusing on.
- SB115 (introduced by Sen. Keith Regier, R-Kalispell) would stop once-in-a-lifetime conservation opportunities before they start.
- HB320 (introduced by Rep. Steve Gunderson, R-Libby) is a wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing bill that would set the stage for land transfer.
- HB418 (introduced by Rep. Gunderson) would pave the way for road building in Glacier National Park and other wild and protected places.
- SJ7 would ignore the work of the previous legislature and fail to support a collaborative approach to wilderness study area management.
We’re also tracking bills that could cripple Habitat Montana, the state’s premier habitat conservation and public access program, and funnel critical funding away from conservation initiatives against the will of Montana voters. All of these bills are still alive, and we’ll need to be vigilant to head them off before they become law.
But it's not all bad. We're also on the cusp of securing huge wins for public lands funding, especially for the purchase of Somers Beach State Park on the north shore of Flathead Lake and the advancement of key public access projects along the Lower Yellowstone River.
You can help by joining our State Legislative Action Team. We’ll send you occasional text updates tailored to your legislative district to help you stand up for the places you love when it matters most.
And keep an eye out for more news about a virtual Rally for Public Lands coming at the beginning of April!
Of course, please make time to take care of yourself and enjoy the creeks, prairies, forests, and mountains that contribute so much to our lives. Taking a few hours to deepen our connections to the places we love can help us refresh and recharge so we can have energy to tackle the second half of the session. And if you’d like, you can make a donation to support this work.
State Policy Director
Noah works to develop state-level policies to protect and enhance our public lands, waters, wildlife, and access to outdoor recreation. He works with elected officials and partners as MWA’s lobbyist in order to advance conservation priorities at the state legislature. He enjoys rafting, fly fishing, backcountry skiing, hiking, and road trips with his wife and two dogs..