Wildlife Advocates for Southwestern Montana
A Letter from the President: Happy New Year 2021
January 9, 2021
Dear Fellow Wildlife Advocates:
Most of us are likely glad 2020 has come and gone. Where we once had such bright hopes in the beginning of last year, quickly changed over time. Now we’re entering another new year, where we once again have hopes for 2021. Covid-19 has definitely left its impact on last year, and it certainly looks like it will be with us for a good portion of the new year, yet we still have hope, hope that next year will be better.
The Gallatin Wildlife Association has been as engaged, perhaps as we’ve never been, working on a whole host of issues affecting wildlife and their habitat. Organizationally, we made advancements such as: our first introductory video, our first active Facebook page, a new logo and a new mission statement. We made progress. But where we really want to make progress is for wildlife.
As we enter a new year, the threats to wildlife and their habitat won’t cease even with a change of administrations (federal or state). In fact, we expect more threats to take place on the state level. We will need help. And in that regard, I will once again make an appeal on their behalf. We like to say we speak for them, but in doing so, the more voices the better. The more support the better, which is why we need you to join GWA. The old saying “that many hands make light work” is never more true than right now, especially when you participate in an all-volunteer organization such as GWA.
In order to meet that need, we need to remind you, now is the time to renew your membership for the upcoming year. And for those of you who are not yet members, perhaps you will consider becoming a member. It is only $20.00/year for general membership and $10.00/year for seniors or students. But membership costs aren’t enough to make us fiscally viable. To do the work which needs to be done, additional contributions will be even more appreciated. Please consider making a donation or becoming a member in the new year of 2021.
Clinton Nagel, President
Gallatin Wildlife Association
Podcast: Wildlife and Wilderness on KGVM - take a listen!
After Christmas of last year (Dec. 30, 2020) Clint Nagel of GWA was fortunate enough to be interviewed by J. Shell, host of the program Wilderness and Wildlife on KGVM, 95.9 on the radio dial.
This half-hour show discussed all sorts of issues pertaining to wildlife and wilderness issues in southwestern Montana and the role that GWA is playing in their protection.
Good News/Bad News
The Good -
Martens have been released in the Little Belts!
Look for the article in the Billings Gazette paper dated January 10, 2021 entitled: "Martens reintroduced to Little Belt Mountains". Found in Section C of the Billings Gazette paper.
The Bad -
Wolf legislation in the Montana House needs action.
2020: It wasn't easy!
Consistency, unity, advocacy and passion are necessary to combat the overwhelming threats that seem to be imposed upon our wildlife and their habitat today. It is much easier to fight the good fight with the help of others striving for the same cause, whether you are with an organization or as an individual, we invite you to join the Gallatin Wildlife Association (GWA).
Our Work in 2020!
1. Signed on to comments along with Wyoming Wildlife Advocates and Sierra Club, Wyoming Chapter, and Western Watersheds Project concerning the Wyoming Chronic Wasting Disease Management Plan draft proposal sponsored by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
2. Signed on to comments along with Wyoming Wildlife Advocates and Sierra Club, Wyoming Chapter to Wyoming Game and Fish Department urging them to phase out elk feeding grounds in northwestern Wyoming.
3. Provided Amicus Brief on behalf of GWA against the proposed timber sale as part of the North Bridger Forest Health Project.
4. Sent letters to and visited the offices of Senator Daines and Tester urging them to reconsider the public land give-away of the National Bison Range in Moiese, Montana. This National Wildlife Refuge is being transferred into the dead of night to tribal lands of the CSKT. GWA is against this sale as we believe it sets bad precedent not to mention the loss of public bison, the science and the infrastructure that has been bought and paid for by the U.S. Government. Submitted Op-Ed letter to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle newspaper on the subject to try and inform the public.
5. Heavily involved and completed in the sponsoring of the 6th annual Wild and Scenic Film Festival.
6. Submitted comments on NEPA changes as proposed by the Trump Adminstration.
7. GWA along with Montana Rivers and Cottonwood Environmental Law Firm filed a complaint in District Court against the Department of Environmental Quality to protect the Gallatin River from unwanted pollution from proposed discharge of treated waste water from the Big Sky community.
8.Have agreed with several other NGO(s) to bring suit against the Forest Service to curtail the bad precedent of the elk feeding grounds in Wyoming. Action soon to be coming.
9. Written comments on the Montana's Climate Solution Plan as drafted by the Climate Solution Council originated by Governor Steve Bullock.
10. Submitted comments on BLM's effort to weaken grazing regulations on public land.
11. GWA originated a sign-on letter addressed to the U.S. Forest Service (Regional Offices) to not participate with the state of Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game to violate Federal Law in the management of the Gray Wolf in wilderness areas within the state.
12. GWA, eleven other conservation groups, and Footloose Montana along with two community leaders signed on to a letter requesting the Director and Commission of Montana's Fish, Wildlife and Parks to suspend all trapping on public lands during the Covid-19 pandemic crisis.
13. GWA held their first ever "virtual" board and membership meeting on April 21, 2020 at 9:00am due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Many topics were discussed and it was felt that this medium (Zoom) held great promise for future meetings.
14. On May 8, 2020, submitted comments to the Governor's Grizzly Bear Advisory Council over the idea of proposed hunting of grizzly bears as part of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks statewide's management plan on public land.
15. GWA submitted comments written by Dr. Jim Bailey to the Centers of Disease Control and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service on the subject of removal of Brucella abortus from the select agent bioterror list. Comments submitted May 12, 2020.
16. GWA cosigned a letter along with several other NGOs sponsored by Western Watershed urging the U.S. Congress to include stimulus funding for protection of wildlife and public lands on May 12, 2020.
17. On May 30, GWA submitted original comments to the Montana Dept. of Transportation on the U.S. Hwy 191 Project Study, a study researching resources from Four Corners to the Junction of Beaver Creek Rd at Hwy 191 just south of Big Sky, MT. This highway cuts through prime wildlife habitat resulting in severe animal/vehicle collisions each year. If you would like to comment, here is the link.
18. In June, GWA is glad to announce the realization we have our first active Facebook page. See details above.
19. GWA signed on to a letter with other NGOs for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to release all correspondence they have had with the Governor's Grizzly Bear Advisory Council (GGBAC). We believe that there has been some attempted influence to get the GGBAC to adopt a proposal for grizzly bear hunting.
20. On July 4th, GWA sent a letter to the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs requesting them to remove provisions relating to the National Bison Range. GWA and the Blue Goose Alliance and many other groups do not believe that federal lands and their corresponding native wildlife should be negotiated away simply as a real estate deal or as cash to bail out a state's economic woes.
21. On July 23, GWA provided spoken comments to the Governor's Grizzly Bear Advisory Council concerning the future policy on Grizzly Bear Management in the state. Then on August 11, GWA provide further, more detailed comments on the final draft of that plan.
22. We put together a position letter to the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission on July 27 to eliminate trapping within the urban interface and/or other recreational areas in Montana as a result of increased demand extending from Covid-19.
23. GWA provided extensive Objection comments to the Forest Service on the 2020 Final Forest Plan for the Custer Gallatin National Forest on August 5. GWA Objected on three (3) counts: Species of Conservation Concern, Wilderness and Land Allocations, and Climate Change and Forest Health. As of Oct. 16, we learned that our Objections have been accepted by the Forest Service. Now we wait for the discussion period with the FS of the 17-19th of November.
24. On August 23, we finalized our comments on the Hwy 191 Corridor Study Project within the Gallatin Canyon.
25. On August 27, we presented a letter to the State of Montana urging them protect the Congress designated WSAs as they currently exist. Their wilderness status needs to be maintained until the proper debate and discussion by the public has taken place. There should be no action taken by others to circumvent the traditional process.
26. GWA provided the Custer Gallatin National Forest with extensive comments on the proposed South Plateau Landscape Area Treatment Project on September 15.
27. GWA has submitted comments for the Montana Forest Action Plan, dated Oct. 21, 2020, a state-wide action mandated by Governor Bullock's Executive Order.
28. GWA have been in active conversations and discussions with three recent issues pertaining to wildlife connectivity and habitat in and around Bozeman, MT since the end of October till the middle of November.
29. We submitted comments to MFWP on the potential sale of a conservation easement near the Missouri River Breaks National Monument near Denton, MT.
30. GWA once again provided substantial comments over the CGNF's attempt to reopen grazing allotments in the Paradise Valley, specifically, the project known as the East Paradise Range Allotment Management Plan.
What Are We Working on Now?
It is the beginning of January and while we wait on the results of the CGNF Objection process, we are working on developing contacts within our community to protect wildlife along the Gallatin Front. But there is always more to do, more to come. This reminds me of Sen Ted's Kenned.y's speech at the Democratic National Convention of 1980.
"For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dreams shall never die."
We have to remember, such as it is in the work of environmental protection. The work continues on, the cause surely endures, and we must have hope for we are not just doing this for ourselves, but for other inhabitants of the world. I could ramble on, but time, space and your attention, probably say “no”. But let me leave you with a couple of questions. What kind of world do you want? Empty and stark where biodiversity and biological integrity are a thing of the past, or a world full of wonderment and amazement where we can coexist with other lifeforms who have as much purpose here as we do. We at the Gallatin Wildlife Association, say we want one that protects the “wild” in wildlife. If you agree, again please join us.
Clint Nagel, President
Gallatin Wildlife Association