Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Score One for the Good Guys

Saturday, April 21st, 2012 was a big day. About 300 people turned up in Choteau Montana to tell Congressman Dennis Rehberg how they felt about the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act. Many of those folks were right along the Front, and a bunch came from other towns. All in all, Congressman Dennis Rehberg got an earful. Especially from hunters and anglers. Mike Menke of the Montana Chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation, Greg Munther from Backcoutnry Hunters and Anglers, Chris Marchion from Anaconda Sportsmen, Helena Hunters and Anglers, Montana Wildlife Federation, and on and on all testified in support of the Heritage Act. It was a thing of beauty. The Camo Coalition that comes together in support of the Front continues to grow. Saturday was evidence to that. Hunters and anglers are repeating history. Just as they did with Cecil Garland and the Scapegoat Wilderness, sportsmen and women showed up in the communities closest to the proposed legislation and were counted in favor of conserving Montana’s Crown Jewel, the Rocky Mountain Front. The testimony for the Heritage Act was overwhelming. 40 to 14. The crowd wore blue “Made in Montana” stickers to show their support, and I even saw a few of the opponents dipping into the Coalition to Protect the Rocky Mountain Front’s cooler of pop and juice (and string cheese). Congressman Dennis Rehberg got an earful. What he does with that knowledge, and the understanding the Montanan’s want the Front protected, should help guide his decision. The Rocky Mountain Front has a history of Conservation going back to 1913 when the Legislature passed the act that created the Sun River Game Preserve. There is a place on the Front where I hunt. It is wild; full of wolves and bears and elk and deer. It’s like no place else on earth. It deserves to be seen as it is by others, 100 years from now. It’s time to honor the deal, and pass the act.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Field days

“God bless America, Let’s save some it.” – Ed Abbey This weekend was full of activity for the Pulpit. We spent Friday at the Sportsmen’s Advisory Panel with Senator Tester, and we were up in Choteau yesterday for Congressman Rehberg’s listening session on the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act. The panel discussion on Friday was lively and energetic. One topic included the issue a Congressional rider that forbade the Forest Service from implementing rules designed to eliminate conflict between wild sheep and domestic sheep. Other topics of interest included HR 4089, the Sportsmen’s Heritage Act, funding for the Farm Bill’s conservation title, and a host of other issues like Roadless, Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, etc. Perhaps the most lively discussion was in regards to current attempts to eliminate the public estate. Currently, public lands are under a great number of threats that would affect our ability to use them and manage them for wildlife habitat and hunting opportunity. It was great to hear the Panel defend the North American Model; lazer-like focus was placed on the need to maintain public lands, which includes cutting some trees, replacing old culverts, and making sure that the funding for the enforcement of travel plans remains high on the Senator’s priority list. The room was full of folks from across the spectrum: Outfitters, privateers, resident hunters and anglers. I even spotted someone from NRDC. Saturday found us up in Choteau with the great folks from the Montana Wildlife Federation, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, and the MT chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation. We were all there to support the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act that’s been introduced by Senator Baucus. Big game needs big country and the RMFHA will help ensure that the elk, deer, bighorns and mountain goats will always have their home place, the Front. Several hundred people showed up to voice their support or opposition to the bill. In all, approximately 40 people testified in support of the bill, while only 13 testified in opposition (we’re reviewing the tapes now for a final count). The crowd was split about 60/40 in support, with over 200 folks wearing “Made in Montana” stickers to show their support for the Heritage Act, and the local, homegrown process that put the bill together. I t was a good couple of days to be a hunter-conservationist in Montana. Hot damn, we love when Montanans show up and are counted! Montana’s wildlife and wild country have the support of the masses.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

National Shooting Sports Foundation's Legislator of the Year

So you know those folks who put on the biggest gun show in the world every year, the SHOT SHOW? if you don't, you should.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) is the premiere trade association for the gun industry. Take one look at their board of directors and you will see what I mean.

Smith and Wesson, Hornady, ATK (got ammo? Thank ATK), Beretta, and Browning Are represented. Today, these guys announced their legislator of the year award, and one of Montana's own was graced with the honor. Check out their blog post on the awards.

Here's the money quote from NSSF's Senior Vice President and Chief Counsel Lawrence G. Keane:

“Sen. Tester’s leadership in the United States Senate has helped to ensure and protect our shooting sports, hunting and firearms freedoms,” said Keane. “NSSF is pleased to present to Sen. Tester NSSF’s 2011 Legislator of the Year Award and looks forward to continuing a constructive dialogue with him on public-policy matters affecting the industry.”

A tip of our Stormy Kromer to Senator Tester on a well deserved acknowledgement of your efforts.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Stand and be Counted

This Saturday presents conservationists with an unique opportunity.

Congressman Dennis Rehberg has announced that he will be in Choteau Montana, at the High School Auditorium, to listen to what Montanan's feel about the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act.

As most of you know, I've spent the last 4.5 years working with the Coalition to Protect the Rocky Mountain Front to draft a proposal that would respect all uses, and provide a pragmatic, moderate path towards landscape conservation. The Heritage Act has been ground-truthed with real boot leather and horse-sweat. It takes nothing from anyone, and has detractors from extremist groups on both sides of the aisle.

For over a generation, there has been a stalemate over congressional landscape designations in Montana. This is not because of the hard work and collaborative efforts that have been underway, but because of political dogma and ideology. It's time to take back the reigns of conservation and work to pass common sense legislation that has a wide variety of backers.

Please consider joining me this Saturday, May 21st in Choteau Montana. The time is now for Montana's conservation leaders: Hunters and Anglers, to stand up and be counted.

What: Rocky Mountain Front Listening Session
Where: Choteau High School Auditorium, Choteau Montana
When: 1:30 PM, Saturday, April 21st

Hunters and anglers contribute over $10 million per year to the local economies of the Front. The vast majority of those dollars come from Resident hunters and anglers. Passing the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act is an insurance policy that will continue that recession proof economy by keeping more critters on the ground through good land management. Our liberal seasons are a product of our land ethic. Now is the time to let Congressman Rehberg know that real Montanans support the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Sportsmen Descend on DC to Save Bristol Bay

*This is a special guest blog by Trout Unlimited. The guys and gals of TU are doing the Lord's work in trying to stop the destructive Pebble Mine from ruining one of the best cold water fisheries on the planet. We're happy to give them some love and post this up!

Sportsmen fly to DC to tell president and congress to say no to Pebble Mine
Starting Monday, April 16, more than 30 sportsmen from around the country are traveling to the nation’s capitol to let their elected officials and the president know that protecting Bristol Bay is a top priority for hunters and anglers.

This is an important week to show the folks who have the power to protect Bristol Bay that sportsmen are in this fight. We’ve got folks from Alaska, Montana, Michigan, Colorado, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Texas, Wisconsin, Washington, North Carolina, California, Missouri, New York, and Virginia representing this great country and the millions of people who want Bristol Bay to be protected and left just like it is today–pristine and productive.

A recent report by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation shows that there are 34 million hunters and anglers in the U.S., and we’re a powerful constituency. Every year, we pump $76 billion into the economy in pursuit of our passion, through our spending on gear, licenses, gas, lodging, meals and more. All of that spending and activity directly supports 1.6 million jobs in this country.
We are also an influential group because 80 percent of sportsmen are likely voters – much higher than the national average. And, we also contribute the most money of any group toward government wildlife conservation programs. So, hopefully if we care about an issue and show our support, the decision makers will listen to what we have to say.

In just a few weeks, the EPA will be releasing a draft of its Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment. This huge scientific assessment will likely guide future decisions about large-scale mining and other industrial development in the Bristol Bay region. If they find that disposal of waste from the mine would adversely harm the surrounding clean waters or natural resources, the EPA can deny or place restrictions on a required dredge and fill permit. If warranted, we hope the Obama Administration would take that step to protect Bristol Bay.

You can support the fight for one of planet Earth’s finest and most productive fishing and hunting destinations by taking action today. Fill out this simple form that will send a letter to the President and your members of Congress asking them to protect Bristol Bay. Let’s carry our sportsmen into D.C. with a lot of momentum.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Steve Rinella, host of the TV show Meateater, is working with our pals over at The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership to produce Field Notes.

Steve's taking on topics like conservation funding, feral pigs and host of other tasty topics. The whole show schedule lines out what each topic is. He knocks it out of the park.

The folks at TRCP are a hard working, dedicated group that work tirelessly to protect Public Land and ensure that we'll always have the place to put Bighorns, Pronghorn, Elk and deer.

We're seeing some fantastic ambassadors to our sport take up the North American Model of Fish and Wildlife Conservation. Steve Rinella is doing what a lot of hunting celebrities should be doing: endorsing actual conservation efforts and policies that matter.

Rather than just tip our Stormy Kromer, was take it off and salute. Hot Damn, nice going boys.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

For Mark

It’s a call that no one wants to receive, or wants to make. A friend has passed. Hell, he was more than a friend, he was a hero to me, and thousands of other hunters and anglers in Wyoming and across this nation.

Mark Winland left an indelible mark on my life. Mark was the president of the Wyoming Wildlife Federation for years, and was my employer for a couple of those. He selflessly gave of himself to that group of people fighting to maintain Wyoming’s place in the chronicles of outdoors history. He took on all comers, and his work has benefitted all of us.

Mark had a soft spot for elk, like a lot of us. He fought companies who wanted to intensively drill areas like Fortification Creek and the Red Desert. He fought for the common man and for all wildlife at the Wyoming Legislature He was the volunteer executive director of WWF when they were searching for another leader. He helped devise a plan to conserve sage grouse, and he did it all in a manner that got everybody talking and working together. He did all of this while teaching science in Gillette and working with his wonderful wife Gwyn in the summers doing field studies out in the Wyoming Prairie.

Mark gave everything he had to wildlife and wild country. He never complained, never shirked a task. He fought for all of us, no matter what our station or our ability. He and his wife Gwyn took visually impaired hunters out to harvest some of their first game animals, and they worked together in the summer ensuring the health of prairie wildlife like raptors and prairie dogs for Coal companies on reclaimed land.

My friend Mark Winland is a giant. I am heartbroken at his passing. I remember sitting on the porch of their yurt over on the west side of the Bighorns after catching large fish in a small stream. Fish that had better lies and riffles thanks to Mark and Gwyn. I had decided to leave Wyoming, and Mark and I were having a couple of beers and talking about all that we had been able to accomplish. That list is longer than an old brown trout, but it includes over $100 million for wildlife, plentiful elk and trout, public land health, thousands of former students who love the outdoors and all of the critters in it, and a lot of battle scars.

Every single one of us who hunts or fishes in Wyoming, or anywhere in the west owes Mark Winland a debt of gratitude.