Friday, December 19, 2014

No Dumping

By Kit Fischer

Every hunter has heard the old mantra “the real work begins after you shoot an animal”.  Even after your critter is hauled back to your truck, hung in your garage, butchered and packaged, the job isn’t completely finished.  What about all the meat trimmings, bones, hide and skull?  While it’s tempting to toss it in the alley and hope for the best, most folks recognize that open, rotting meat in an urban location is not ideal.  This often results in folks tossing their game carcass in the back of the pickup the next time they head up in the woods for easy disposal.

8 days ago.  I was headed up Pattee Canyon to get a Christmas tree.  A new dusting of snow has created a winter wonderland.  A dozen or so cars are parked along various turnouts – some walking dogs, others with saws in hand and family in tow, searching for the perfect Christmas tree.  Norman Maclean couldn't have written  a more Montana  scene—except for the blood spattered road and  carcasses.

 The dumping of game carcasses along county and Forest Service roads and in front of locked gates doesn’t exactly ring of Christmas cheer.  Not only is dumping your big game carcass on state and federal lands usually illegal, it’s ugly and it’s irresponsible. Here are the FWP regs related to carcass disposal: http://fwp.mt.gov/news/newsReleases/hunting/nr_1978.html

Not only do ill-placed carcasses attract scavengers to places they shouldn’t be, that illegal dumping also stains the image of hunters. 

I, and for that fact, most Montanans whether you hunt or not don’t like to have to tip-toe around deer carcasses when I go out looking for a Christmas tree on the outskirts of town.  Not to mention, carcasses pose serious health risks, especially if they are placed near a stream or waterway.  The third issue with dumping carcasses willy-nilly is that you could be facilitating the transmission of a disease from one area of the state to another.  And who wants that on their conscience?

So what’s the easiest solution? 

1.       Bone out your critter in the field.
2.       Get a sweet new pair of gloves for your big game hide from Pacific Recycling
3.       Chop your bones to snack size and give them to your pooch for Christmas.

4.       Toss them in your garbage can or run it up to the landfill (preferably the day before pickup to avoid nosy scavengers) 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Giving Thanks

 I didn’t bag a buck or a bull this year and apart from a young pronghorn buck who was kind enough to succumb to my 30-06, my freezer is empty, but I have a lot of thanks to give this holiday season.
Most importantly, thanks go out to Senator Jon Tester, Senator John Walsh and Congressman Steve Daines for their hard work and dedication to advance Made in Montana bills like the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act and the North Fork Preservation Act.

These bills, along with a number of other good (and a few not so good) provisions were included in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014 this week. That bill funds our nation’s defense, and it’s passed every year for over 50 years, so even in the most dysfunctional congress in memory, the likelihood of passage is as high as any other bill. It’s not a done deal, but it’s damned close. In fact, as I was writing this, the bill passed the House and is now on it's way to the Senate. 

Both the Front and the North Fork bills have wide support across Montana. Sure a few extremists on either side of the issue don’t like it but these bills gained the support of our entire delegation because they are locally supported collaborative bills that engaged working Montanans, rancher, hunters and anglers and small businesses across the state from the get-go.  

More importantly, it’s a good sign that our delegation will work together in the next congress to address other critical conservation issues like the Land and Water Conservation Fund Re-authorization and hopefully the Forst Jobs and Recreation Act as well.

I spent 6 years working on the Front legislation with a host of other great people. Here’s what I learned: When people put aside their ideological differences and focus on a common goal, rooted in the possibility of actually protecting something everyone loves, the end product is strong enough to withstand the vagaries of congress, the slings and arrows of detractors and the poorly considered opinions of critics who didn’t engage in drafting the bill to begin with.

A mighty tip of our Stormy Kromer to our delegation for fighting for what’s right, and working to get these two critical bills over the finish line before the end of December.

What those bills do: 


Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act: 
The bill would create about 60,000 acres of new wilderness in the Bob Marshall and Scapegoat Wilderness complex. It would further designate about 200,000 acres as a Conservation Management Area where existing uses like hunting ,grazing and current travel regimes would become the law of the land. The CMA is a new designation and one that was drafted specifically to ensure that the habitat remains in good shape, while providing the certainty that livestock operators need to keep their leases, some of which date back to before the establishment of the Forest Service. This bill was crafted by the Coalition to Protect the Rocky Mountain Front and is endorsed by dozens of local sporting groups, businesses and folks who live in Montana.

North Fork Protection Act:
The NFPA would take away the ability to drill for oil and gas along the North Fork of the Flathead River. While there remains much debate about the amount of recoverable gas along the North Fork, some poorly planned development could come along and destroy one of Montana’s crown jewels in the Crown of the Continent. Backed by major oil and gas companies, sportsmen, conservationists and a host of politicians from both parties, the North Fork Protection Act is an important step in ensuring the North Fork always remain wild and free.



Thanks, Congressman Daines, Senator Tester & Senator Walsh for your willingness to work for all Montanans, and to advance good ideas even when the going gets tough. 

We would be remiss to point out that not all that glitters is gold in this bill. In order to get the Montana bills as well as some bills for New Mexico and Colorado, compromises were made that we're holding our nose on. However, we're not willing to let perfect be the enemy of good, and while those provisions are problematic and difficult to allow movement forward, it is important to recognize the hard work the delegation did in order to get Congress to actually do something with net positive gain for hunters, anglers, wildlife and most importantly, wild country. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Montana’s Outdoor Hall of Fame

Montana’s rich outdoor legacy is no mistake. It’s the by-product of hard work, dedication and vision. Our territorial legislators knew that unregulated hunting and fishing were stripping our land. Our state legislators protected thousands of acres as Game Preserves long before the word Wilderness was ingrained in our psyche. Citizens led efforts to protect wildlife from slaughter, to protect our shared landscapes from unmitigated destruction and to ensure that every generation following had the same opportunity to hunt, fish and hike that our forefathers did.

On Saturday, December 6th at 6:00 PM in the Great Northern Hotel in Helena, a banquet will be held to induct the first class of inductees. You can find out more about the banquet here: http://montanatu.org/event/outdoor-hall-of-fame-banquet/

We owe the inaugural class of inductees a collective tip of our Stormy Kromers, a hearty handshake and a well deserved thanks (along with maybe a libation or two). Without folks like these, we would not have the world class hunting and fishing, or the access to those critters and public lands and waters, that we do today.

There's one person, however, who is not on this list and should be: Montana Outdoor Hall of Fame organizer and architect Jim Posewitz. Jim's dedication to Montana's wildlife, wild country and hunters and anglers is legendary in it's own right. We hope to see Jim's name in the Hall in upcoming classes. Well done, Mr. Posewitz!
Here’s the inaugural class:

Granville Stuart , 1834-1918
Granville Stuart came to Montana when it was still a territory in 1857 and noted the flourishing wildlife populations. Within a few years, the wildlife plummeted, and Stuart was instrumental in getting the hunting laws passed in the First Territorial Legislature.
Theodore Roosevelt 1858-1919
President Theodore Roosevelt set aside 230 million acres for conservation and created the national forest system. While Roosevelt did not spend a great deal of time in Montana, a bison hunt in 1883 among the slaughtered herds is often pointed to as a turning point in his life, leading to the conservation movement.
Charles M. Russell 1864-1926
Artist Charles M. Russell was famous for his western scenes that displayed and at times lamented the loss of wildness. “Civilization is nature’s worst enemy. All things vanish when she comes,” Russell said.
Lee Metcalf 1911-1978
Sen. Lee Metcalf, born in Stevensville, was a key figure in the creation and passage of the Wilderness Act of 1964, and his legacy includes sponsoring or writing the Clean Air Act of 1963, the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1964, the Water Quality Act of 1965 and the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968.
Don Alrich 1912-1990
Born in Deer Lodge in 1912, Don Aldrich went on to lead the Western Montana Fish and Game Association and the Montana Wildlife Federation. He advocated for conservation from local to national levels, and had a hand in almost every wildlife, water, wilderness and mining issue from the 1950s until his death in 1990.
Bud Moore 1917-2010
Bud Moore changed the face of the U.S. Forest Service, advocating for wilderness and as a district ranger in Idaho, famously turning back a bulldozer that came to build a road through what would become the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. He became the chief of fire management for the Forest Service’s northern region, shaping the philosophy from one of fire suppression to recognizing fire’s ecological role in nature.
Thurman Trosper 1918-2007
Ronan native Thurman Trosper played an important role as a wilderness and conservation advocate in the Forest Service, the Wilderness Society and within the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes. He became one of the first Native Americans to serve as a manager in the Forest Service but may be best known for his advocacy of the eventual Mission Mountain Wilderness on the Flathead Reservation.
Doris Milner 1920-2007
Doris Milner spent 40 years as an advocate for wilderness after moving to Hamilton in 1951. First inspired by the threat of a timber sale along the Selway River in the Magruder Corridor, she went on to join Idaho Sen. Frank Church and Montana Sen. Lee Metcalf in expanding the wilderness to include the corridor and designating the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness.
Cecil Garland 1925-2014
Lincoln resident Cecil Garland worked for decades to see the 240,000-acre designation of the Scapegoat Wilderness. He pledged to protect the country he loved as one of the founders of the Lincoln Back Country Protective Association, which caused boycotts of his store in Lincoln. Despite pressure from the timber industry, Garland and others pushed as citizen advocates and saw the land protected in 1972.
Gerry Jennings 1940-
Gerry Jennings of Great Falls has been an active volunteer in the Montana Wilderness Association since the early 1990s. She has played a major role in shaping the present-day focus of wilderness advocacy in the state, serving in leadership positions for 12 years.
Ron Marcoux 1942-
Helena resident Ron Marcoux spent 22 years with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, steering the fisheries division away from constant stocking of hatchery fish to developing wildly reproducing fisheries. He and others encountered plenty of resistance to the idea, but after proven successes, FWP adopted the policy statewide. Marcoux also spent a decade as associate director and deputy director with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, developing its land acquisition, conservation easement and land donation programs.
Chris Marchion 1952-
Chris Marchion became an officer of the Anaconda Sportsmen Club in 1985, still serving as vice president today. With nearly three decades of conservation advocacy, he has worked on projects ranging from mining settlements on the Clark Fork River, formation of the Mount Haggin Game Range, the elimination of game farm hunting and drafting the Bighorn Sheep auction legislation, which has raised millions of dollars for bighorn conservation in the state.