Gallatin Wildlife Association
As the old saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same! We are quickly filling up the old threats against our wildlands and our wildlife with a bunch of new ones! GWA has not officially taken a position on these actions yet, but present them here for your information.
1.Wilderness Bill wins approval in House!
The package, H.R. 2546, the Protecting America's Wilderness Act, includes 6 bills that environmental groups and the environmental community have been advocating for. It includes protections for the Wild Olympics in Washington, wilderness in Colorado, and four California landscapes.
This is good news, but now this bill has to move to the Senate. This will remain a challenge and the Trump Administration has come out against this bill. We have our work cut out for us. Write our Senators in support of this legislation.
This news brought to you buy the Outdoor Alliance.
2. A Federal Lands Giveaway - The National Bison Range
Much to our surprise, did we learn that the Senators of Montana has placed the National Bison Range into national legislation snuck into the Water Compact Legislation S.3019. GWA has done its homework on this issue and believe that this effort was done without public comment or notification. The National Bison Range is part of the National Wildlife Refuge System and in the top 10 most visited park in the National Wildlife Refuge System. It is historic, established in 1908 by Theordore Roosevelt and has conducted genetic research on bison genetics and has maintained these genetic alleles through history.
Please read the letter below as it was sent to Senator Daines and Tester this last week of February.
January 30, 2020
The Gallatin Wildlife Association (GWA) is a non-profit volunteer wildlife conservation organization representing hunters, anglers and other wildlife advocates in Southwest Montana and elsewhere. Our mission is to protect habitat and conserve fish and wildlife. GWA supports sustainable management of fish and wildlife populations through fair chase public hunting and fishing opportunities that will ensure these traditions are passed on for future generations to enjoy. We support the Montana constitution which states: “the opportunity to harvest wild game is a heritage that shall forever be preserved” and that “the legislature shall provide adequate remedies to prevent unreasonable depletion of natural resources.”
Senator Steve Daines Senator John Tester
320 Hart Senate Office Bldg. 311 Hart Senate Office Bldg.
Washington D. C. 20510 – 2604 Washington D.C. 20510 – 2604
Re: SB 3019, Retention of the National Bison Range and other lands for all Americans
Dear Senators Daines and Tester:
For several reasons stated below, we oppose that portion of SB3019 that would remove the National Bison Range (NBR) from the National Wildlife Refuge System, and transfer authority over NBR to the Confederated Salish/Kootenai Tribes (CSKT).
It is not appropriate to attach a decision as important as disposing of a large amount of significant national land to a water rights bill that has very different purposes. This process evades the analysis, public participation and public awareness of the National Environmental Protection Act. Retaining or disposing of NBR should be considered on its own merits. The proposal sets a bad precedent of paying government bills with a disposal of public land. This precedent will jeopardize other public lands, especially wildlife refuges and national parks and monuments.
In addition, SB 3019 gives state land off the NBR to CSKT, replacing the state land with federal lands elsewhere. There will be a net loss of about 57 square miles of public land and conversion of an equal area of federal multiple-use land to the more narrowly managed economic purposes of state land. In the past year, Montanans have voiced strong support for retaining our multiple-use public lands.
The NBR is a special place on the national landscape and within the National Wildlife Refuge System. It is one of the last remaining large tracts of intermountain grassland. It is the 10th most visited National Wildlife Refuge in the USA, where visitors contribute over $12 million annually to local economies, creating about 150 Montana jobs. With its unique past, NBR commemorates and informs the public of the history of conservation, especially of bison, in the United States. NBR facilities can be expanded to also commemorate the history of Salish/Kootenai peoples, as the Tribes desire, without transfer of the NBR to Tribal ownership.
The bison herd on NBR is unique, having one of the highest levels of allelic richness, heterozygosity, and private alleles among the federal herds tested. It is essential to the Department of Interior strategy for retaining the genetic diversity of wild plains bison within the 19 DOI herds. Even with 11,000 bison – very unevenly distributed among herds - the DOI bison will slowly lose genetic diversity under current management. Almost certainly, loss of control of NBR bison will seriously impair the success of the DOI conservation strategy for plains bison.
Gallatin Wildlife Association recognizes and respects past conservation activities of CSKT, including establishing a wilderness area, controlling invasive species, managing grizzly bear, bull trout and trumpeter swans and enhancing wildlife corridors. However, vague and open-ended statements in SB 3019 (pp. 57, 59, 60-62), regarding tribal commitments to future management of NBR and its bison are uncompelling. There are no detailed commitments to land and herd management, or to public access, that would obligate future Tribal Councils.
We believe that Tribal needs and benefits, other than outright ownership, can be achieved with mutual good-faith cooperation between CSKT and a federal NBR. But the national interests in NBR and its bison herd must be securely protected for future generations of all Americans. At one time, it was deemed the purpose and function of the NBR had a federal mission, a federal inheritance if you will. But what happened to that ideal? When did that purpose change? The purpose and function of the NBR is no different today than at the time of establishment 112 years ago. To say otherwise is a mischaracterization of the reality, the science, and the voice of the American people.
Clinton Nagel, Volunteer President
Gallatin Wildlife Association
3. Oppose Senate Bill 1695!
According to latest action: This bill was read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources as determined by the Senate on May 23, 2019. The latest is there has been no action on this bill since that time, however the Senate Committee is supposed to meet on November 18, 2020. Whether any action will be taken up on this bill remains to be seen.
This bill simply weakens The Wilderness Act of 1964 by opening up wilderness areas to mountain biking and other mechanical use. Senator Mike Lee of Utah was signature to introducing this bad piece of legislation in the U.S. Congress and we need to defeat this bad piece of legislation. Needless to say, wilderness and wildlife are being pressured like never before by human interference on our wildlands.
Please write our Senators and urge them to vote against S. 1695.
For Senator Steve Daines: https://www.daines.senate.gov/connect/email-steve
For Senator Jon Tester: https://www.tester.senate.gov/contact/
For further information, you use this link by Wilderness Watch. Look at the first action alert.
4. Tribal Heritage and Grizzly Bear Protection Act: H.R. 2532
According to latest action: As of June 7, 2019, This bill was referred to the Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture by the Committee on Agriculture. As we know, as of November 2020, there has been no further action taken on this bill.
Note: GWA has not taken a position on this bill, but present it here for your information.
As you know, the Trump Administration has recently tried again to remove Grizzly Bears from ESA protections, protections which were first put in place for these bears since 1975. Yet, there are still efforts in motion to remove these protections of bears from the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem.
According to Wilderness Watch, this bill has these devastating effects.
If you would like to help in the further protections of Grizzly Bears, be sure and write our House Representative, Greg Gianforte.
The link to his contact is found here.
Follow Up - The Death of Some Bad Bills:
To follow up on bills in U.S. Congress - you can use this link. https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/
H.R. 6784, "Manage our Wolves Act" was introduced in a previous session of Congress and was passed by the House on November 16, 2018, but was never passed by the Senate.
The Share Act, HR 3668, ( "The Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act") was introduced in September 13, 2017 in a previous session of Congress, but was not enacted. It died in a previous session of Congress!
Senate Bill 2206 ( "The Protect Public Use of Public Lands Act") introduced by Steve Daines on December 7, 2017 in a previous session of Congress was also not enacted. It also died in a previous session of Congress!
One of Rep. Gianforte’s bills (H.R. 5148), a companion bill to Steve Daines S. 2206, which would open up the Big Snowies, the Middle Fork Judith, West Pioneers, Sapphire, and Blue Joint wilderness study areas – a half-million acres in all – to hard-rock mining, oil and gas development, and expanded motorized use was also never enacted.
Gianforte’s other bad bill (H.R. 5149) “Unlocking Public Lands Act” introduced on Mar. 1, 2018 in a previous session of Congress was also not enacted and died in that session of Congress.
The “Wheels in Wilderness Bill” (H.R. 1349), which would amend and weaken the Wilderness Act to allow mountain bikes, strollers, wheelbarrows, game carts, survey wheels and measuring wheels in Wilderness Areas was introduced on December 13, 2017 in a previous session of Congress, but not enacted. It died in a previous session of Congress!
“The Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017”, H.R. 2936, would have expedited forest health projects under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and improve forest management activities on public lands and Tribal lands to return resilience to overgrown, fire-prone forested lands (so it says). This bill was introduced in a previous session of Congress and was passed by the House on November 1, 2017, but was never passed by the Senate. Died in a previous sessison of Congress.
Superior National Forest ,Land Exchange Act, H.R. 3115, and H.R. 3905, "Minnesota Economic Rights in the Superior National Forest Act" had passed the House on Nov. 28, 2017 and Nov. 30, 2017 respectively, but was never passed by the Senate!