The Montana Standard publishes letters from readers in the Opinion section. Here are this week's letters.
To submit a letter to the editor, go here.
Need Madison action
Need Madison action
At the recent Madison River Negotiated Rulemaking Committee meetings the three outfitters on the committee disagreed with both the Fish, Wildlife and Park’s member, and Lauren Wittorp Executive Director of the Madison River Foundation that the Madison River fishery would be impacted by overuse. The Madison River Fisheries Biologist, Dave Moser has said numerous times that the fishery is reaching a “tipping point”. Why are these outfitters denying what the expert says?
You don’t have to look far. There are numerous case studies detailing the mismanagement of fisheries across the world. Fisheries crash from mismanagement, overuse, and the ever-increasing threat of climate change. The North Atlantic cod fishery, salmon and steelhead populations on the West Coast, bluefin tuna in the Atlantic Ocean, and bull trout throughout the United States are just a few to mention. The Madison River is classified as a blue-ribbon fishery and is one of the most productive streams in Montana for brown trout, rainbow trout, and mountain whitefish. The popularity of the fishery has been documented by FWP’s estimates on angling pressure. The data from FWP indicates that overall recreational use on the Madison River continues to increase.
In 2011 FWP gained approval from the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission to begin the formal process of developing a management plan. Scoping meetings and surveys were conducted by the agency, a Madison Citizen Advisory Committee was formed, and research was gathered on public and commercial use. A plan presented to the Fish and Wildlife Commission by FWP was rejected for public comment in 2018. The rejection of the plan prompted the formation of a Negotiated Rule Making Committee. The committee will meet multiple times then make a recommendation to the Fish and Wildlife Commission in April which will vote whether or not to send it out for public comment. At that point, if voted to go to public comment, the public would be able to express opinions before the commission would vote to enact it.
The time is now for the need for a recreation plan for the Madison River. The preservation of the resource is dependent on caps on use being instituted and walk wade access areas being conserved. Shouldn’t we be proactive in protecting the legacy of world-class trout fishing on the Madison River?
Parker Dolphin, Ennis
Not an infringement
HR 28 is a joint resolution of the Senate and the House of the State of Montana urging the BLM to deny the bison grazing proposal by the American Prairie Reserve. The House of Representatives passed House Joint Resolution 28 (HR 28) on March 1st, moving the resolution on for consideration in the Senate.
The Prairie Reserve is squealing that this resolution is an infringement of their private property rights. I disagree strongly. This resolution is simply urging the BLM to reject the unprecedented, unreasonable requests by the APR for change in use on 18 huge BLM allotments. It is urging the BLM to reject preferential treatment requests by the APR for huge, sweeping changes on historically well managed, well conserved BLM allotments. What’s wrong with that? Any BLM leaseholder does have the right to request change in use on BLM. However, the magnitude of change that the APR is requesting is unreasonable and should be denied. Dan Bartel (HD 29) of Lewistown is simply standing up for the ranching community by sponsoring this resolution and bless him for it. This resolution reflects the voice of generations of Montana ranchers.
How is HR 28 infringing on APR property rights? This is not their private property we are talking about. It’s public land. They can do what they want with their private land. No problem. The APR, as an out-of-state, internationally funded, non-profit organization swoops in here requesting that the hugely successful infrastructure of generations of people be torn down for a scientific experiment for unmanaged buffalo.
It is “the responsibility of the BLM to ensure the future vitality of these public parcels is protected.” (HR 28)
The APR “has requested that the BLM fundamentally shift long-established grazing practices on the 18 BLM allotments, which encompass 250,000 acres of public property.” (HR 28)
Pass this resolution as a message that unreasonable requests for change by anyone, any business or any non-profit on BLM that “shifts long-established grazing practices” be denied.
Leah LaTray, Winifred
Like many of us, I want my privacy and personal dignity respected throughout my life, including at the time of my death. I believe the manner by which I die, to the extent I have any say in the matter, should be between myself, my doctor, and my God.
For the past four Montana Legislative Sessions and again this session, a group of extreme right wing legislators has launched an all-out assault on the right of Montana adults to access medical aid in dying. Medical aid in dying is the process by which a terminally ill patient who is thinking clearly and can self-ingest medication specifically asks his or her doctor to write a prescription which the patient may choose to take in order to achieve a peaceful death.
HB284 would revise current homicide law and include medical aid in dying as a crime by which doctors could be given a prison sentence for 10 years, to life, up to the death penalty!
Shockingly, House Bill 284 has passed the House and is currently being considered in the Senate. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hear the bill on Thursday morning, May 21st. The Committee will subsequently take a vote. If the vote wins majority support, the bill will go to the Senate floor for a vote by the entire Senate. Now is the time to contact the Senate Judiciary Committee and your state senator and express your opposition to the bill. I hope you will make these calls or send these emails. Please urge them to vote no on HB 284.
Doris Fischer, Sheridan
Habitat Montana threat
Montana’s 30-year-old conservation program, Habitat Montana, is currently under attack — again.
Last year, landowners and sportsmen saw the dark side of politics with a disappointing show of power from Commissioner Rosendale, Superintendent Arntzen and Secretary of State Stapleton when they voted to delay a conservation easement indefinitely. In response, the Montana Supreme Court voted 6-1 in support of keeping political gamesmanship out of the conservation easement approval process by not requiring easements to go before the State Land Board.
Yet, Rep. Kerry White (R-Bozeman) now is pitting himself against sportsmen with HB 265, which would undermine the Montana Supreme Court and require all easements over 100 acres to go before the five-person political body.
Habitat Montana is funded by a combination of hunting license revenues and matching federal funds. These conservation easements go through an arduous vetting process that can take up to two years. Public input is accepted at every step from the initial scoping process and the town hall-type meetings to the final review before the FWP commission.
Public access is the No. 1 issue for sportsmen forgoing time afield. It’s shameful that some in Helena are trying to make one of our greatest tools in increasing hunter access and opportunity even more cumbersome. We certainly do not need more bureaucratic hoops for landowners and Fish, Wildlife & Parks to jump through. I encourage our legislators to stand up for habitat conservation, public access and small government, and vote NO on HB 265.
Justin Schaaf, Fort Peck
Carbon dividend bill
Thank you to The Montana Standard for running the front-page article, Save the Snow Summit (3/16/19) about our changing climate and its impacts on snowpack, forests, insects, water rights, and Montana’s economic future. We can add to this list the risks posed to our national security, agriculture, and the recreation industry.
Readers will be glad to know that a group of bipartisan lawmakers in the U.S House of Representatives has introduced H.R. 763, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (EICDA). A Senate version will be introduced soon.
The EICDA, which is the first promising piece of legislation supported by members on both sides of the aisle as well as economists of all political persuasions, promotes a rapid and predictable transition to low-carbon forms of energy. Once enacted, our carbon pollution will decrease by 40% in 12 years and 90% by 2050.
The EICDA places a $15 per ton CO2-equivalent fee levied on fossil-fuel producers at the coal mine, oil/gas well and port of entry. The fee rises $10 per ton per year. The net revenues (about 95% of the total after administrative costs) are returned directly as a monthly dividend to US citizens and lawful residents with a social security or taxpayer identification number. This money helps offset the higher costs of fossil fuel during the transition. Meanwhile, the higher fossil-fuel costs will motivate industry and energy companies to invest in low-carbon energy and technologies such as carbon capture and storage.
Vitally important for Montana, the bill exempts fuel used for agriculture and all biological emissions, such as methane from cattle and other livestock. A border fee adjustment levels the playing field for exports of Montana coal and oil to countries that do not impose a similar carbon fee. And, the military is reimbursed for any fuel taxes under this bill.
Please call and write Senators Daines and Tester and Representative Gianforte. Urge them to support H.R. 763, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (and its companion when introduced in the Senate). They work well together to get things done in Congress that benefit us all, such as the recent Land and Water Conservation Fund. We need them now to help us mitigate climate change.
Solving climate change is too urgent to get caught up in partisan politics. Please act today! For more info, see https://energyinnovationact.org/
Alexandra Amonette, Big Timber
Congratulations to the Whittier teachers, students and parents for putting on a spectacular “ Night at the Museum” on Wednesday evening. The hours that were spent by the teachers had to be monumental to pull off such a huge undertaking so eloquently. The sixth grade students presented their favorite historical person with such pride and presented their life’s history so eloquently. The parents had to put in many hours making the costumes to portray the historical individual and making sure their child knew their part flawlessly.
What a great memorable learning experience for those students.
Hats Off to all who participated.
Beverly J. Brothers, Butte
I’m writing to respond to public comments made at the March 7 Madison River Negotiated Rule-making Committee meeting in Ennis. I want to thank the committee members, whose decisions will have wide reaching effects. I applaud their careful, thoughtful, and compromising approach.
As licensed Montana outfitter with 18 years of guide experience, 26 years of fly fishing experience, and almost 40 years of angling experience, I am commenting on information given to the committee to advocate for why boats should not be in the upper sections of the Madison.
During public comment, Jackie Mathews stated the public should not be able to float boats to access angling because FWP biologists will not electrofish those sections as they are unsafe for float electrofishing. Her argument that if they will not electrofish float in there, then the public should not take boats in there is misleading. At the very least, it is not truthful.
There is a difference in what FWP biologists do to collect electrofishing data and how floaters and float anglers operate their boats. First, the electrofishing boat does not have oars. They don’t actually float or drift, they walk the boat down the river. One biologist holds the boat by handles on the back. There is a large water holding tank, a generator, gear, and two more biologists aboard. When the tank of water, which is very heavy, is full of fish and ready to collect data, they must find a suitable place to hold or park the boat as there is no anchor. Then they process the fish in a timely matter. It is an amazing amount of work to walk a boat with all that gear and weight downriver. I also understand that is why they would not think it safe to collect data between Quake Lake and Pine Butte. The bottom is uneven, bouldered, steep and with fast currents making it difficult to safely walk that setup down stream. That is different than floating in a raft or drift boat to park behind a rock and fish. There is no reason it cannot and should not be navigated safely by watercraft oared correctly. Comparing the relative safety of the two things as an argument for removal of boats from a section without context on how the two activities are different, seems to be a disguised and deceitful argument for removal of boats.
Brian Rosenberg, Ennis
A time conspiracy
They did it to us again? You know what I am talking about? Oh, so you don't know what I'm talking about! That's because you have a time lapse! You lost an hour because of Daylight Saving Time. You didn't save any time, but you lost an hour. Where did that hour go? Will you have to pay extra tax for losing an hour?
Daylight Saving time causes much stress, agitation, confusion and tension. It makes you have a funny appetite. You will have a desire to eat sardines with peanut butter. It will make you want to cry and swear. I know you do that already but it will increase. It will give you a desire to answer all those robo calls.
Daylight Saving Time was invented by a man. No woman in her right mind would invent this silly scheme. The cuckoo clock was invented to honor the man who instigated Daylight Saving Time.
When you wake up you will have "Time Fever" or "Time Lapse". It is because you are in another time zone and you will just have to kill time until the feeling goes away. Time will tell, so they say. And that's another story. We never find out who "they" are!
LaVon Brillhart, Dillon