Access to public lands, forest management, drought, hunting and the outdoors. Those are a few of the topics discussed by Montana Governor Greg Gianforte at a recent news conference at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s headquarters in Missoula.
Joined by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Director (FWP) Hank Worsech, Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) Director Amanda Kaster and other staff members, Gianforte outlined his natural resources priorities for the 2023 legislative session. Those efforts fall under the catchphrase of “Protecting our Montana way of life.”
“I think that’s probably a little different to every single Montanan. I know for me, as a hunter and a fisherman and an outdoorsman, these are not things that we do. They’re not activities. It’s really who we are. It’s an identity and access to lands for hunting and fishing is part of our identity. And that’s why the work that Rocky Mountain Elk is doing with FWP, DNRC as well as our administration to make sure Montanans continue to have access is so critically important.”
Gianforte’s mention of RMEF not only references the organization’s ongoing conservation work but a new RMEF project that creates the new Big Snowy Mountains Wildlife Management Area in central Montana.
Below are the words shared by RMEF President & CEO Kyle Weaver at the news conference.
Anyone who hunts in Montana, and specifically chases elk, understands the importance of access, and good habitat to go along with it, along with having healthy herds. When we talk about access…we talk about safe, truly accessible access. And that’s really the key to this project. Not only is it important for hunters, it’s important for the effective management of elk in this state. And that’s exactly what the Snowies project does for us. It checks all those boxes and more.
It’s over 5,700 acres opened that have not previously been opened so we’re talking new access. And something we focus on is the improvement of access or improvement to tens of thousands of acres that have not been that easy to access before which is key to the management of elk and also for all hunters, outdoorsmen and women alike. This is truly a huge win for all of us here.
One more significant element that RMEF agrees with and supports is FWP’s continued support of grazing on this property. Along with this, RMEF members, our supporters and volunteers have granted $250,000 to assist FWP in the set-up of future property improvements on the Big Snowies, which is always key once we develop these that we keep it going. That includes fencing, invasive weed control, water developments, signage and maps. We’ll be here for the long run.
We’d like to thank the FWP commission and staff as well as Land Board members that supported this project. And lastly, to Shodair Children’s Hospital for their vision and support of hunting and public lands in this state.