Dear Fellow Southwest Montana Community Leaders, Recreationists and Conservationists:
I want to bring to your attention what appears to be a major oversight by our Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks in its "15 and Forward" Listening Sessions to be held across the state of Montana (link here: http://fwp.mt.gov/doingBusiness/publicComments/15ForwardListeningSessions.html). To quote the agency:
"’15 and Forward is a Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks initiative to evaluate our vision and goals, which will help FWP set priorities for the next 10 years. This is something we must do periodically to be effective as our challenges and opportunities change, and it’s been nearly two decades since FWP last took such a comprehensive look...What you have to share is critical to this evaluation process. FWP would like to understand if we are meeting your needs, what we can do to serve you better, and hear your thoughts on FWP priorities for the next 10 years. Your input will be an integral part of identifying programs and services that are most valuable and relevant."
As you will see by following the link above, FWP is hosting listening sessions in all of Montana's major cities and also in Lewistown, Fort Peck and Miles City. They have either forgotten or chosen not to schedule one of these sessions in Butte, or in any other community that could be reasonably considered representative of Southwest Montana (i.e. Dillon, Anaconda, Deer Lodge, Philipsburg). My assessment is that this oversight by our FWP, whether intentional or not, sends the message that listening to the sportsmen and women and conservationists/recreationists of Southwest MT is not as “integral” or “critical” as the rest of the communities in which it is hosting live listening sessions. Best case, the agency expects the significant number of us from Butte and our surrounding SW MT communities to either chime in on-line or travel to Bozeman, Helena or elsewhere to listen and make comments. I hope you will join me in my message to FWP that THIS IS COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE.
Butte and Southwest Montana has a higher than average number of hunters and anglers compared to other areas of the state; our region is home to some of the state's best big game hunting and hosts many of the most fished water bodies including the Big Hole and Beaverhead Rivers, Georgetown Lake and Clark Canyon reservoir. Additionally, we have a number of wildlife management areas and state parks, and the conservation history of our area is second to none, as we boast some of the Rocky Mountain U.S.'s oldest chapters of Trout and Ducks Unlimited as well as the Skyline and Anaconda Sportsmen Associations, the Big Hole River Foundation, the Big Hole and Jefferson Watershed Committees and the Upper Clark Fork Basin Steering Committee. Again, this oversight is UNACCEPTABLE and we must respectfully insist that FWP schedule a listening session in Butte to represent an equal opportunity for the citizens of Southwest Montana to listen and respond to the FWP's 15 and Forward initiative. Please voice your concerns directly to FWP Director, Jeff Hagener at 444-2535 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, as FWP administration is cc’d on this message, feel free to “reply all” if you are in support of the request to have a meeting scheduled in Butte for the “15 and Forward” listening sessions.
Thank you for joining me in this call to action on behalf of the sportsmen/women and the conservation communities of Southwest Montana! Please feel free to pass this email along to anyone I may have missed and to contact me at this email address or at 406-497-6220 if you have questions. You can also find a signed pdf file attached to this message.
Butte-Silver Bow City-County