During the 1993 legislative session, numerous bills related to private land and public wildlife were introduced, many of them in opposition to each other, and all of them failed. In response, the legislature passed House Joint Resolution 24, which called on then-Governor Marc Racicot to appoint a council of citizens representing the interests of hunters, landowners, and outfitters, charged with developing solutions to some of the issues raised during the 1993 session.
That first Private Land/Public Wildlife Council defined the following common goals:
Council recommendations resulted in legislation (House Bill 195) introduced to the 1995 legislature, which passed with near-unanimous support, prompting then-Governor Racicot to refer to it as a minor miracle. HB195 created the Hunting Access Enhancement Program (significantly enhancing the existing Block Management Program), providing a wide range of incentives to landowners who allow public hunting and providing a stabilized source of licenses for the clients of hunting outfitters, with revenue from those licenses earmarked for the enhanced hunting access program.
HB195 included a sunset provision, providing a 6-year temporary authority for the new program and new outfitter-sponsored license, with a provision that required a review committee to be appointed by the Governor to report annually on the progress of the program.
Since that time, new PL/PW Councils have been appointed at periodic intervals, and the sunset provisions for the program and related elements have been extended to March 1, 2006. PL/PW Council recommendations have resulted in various bills being introduced in past legislative sessions, some of which have passed and others which have failed. Two new sources of funding for the Hunting Access Enhancement Program have been implemented as a result of past PL/PW Council Recommendations, including $55 of each nonresident upland bird license, and a Hunting Access Enhancement Fee, created in 2001, currently set at $2 for residents and $10 for nonresidents.
Next meeting has not been scheduled.
M87-1-269 MCA contains the entire charge as it relates to Report required review committee. To summarize the contents of that statute, the Governor is required to appoint a committee of persons interested in issues related to hunters, anglers, landowners, and outfitters, with a focus on evaluating and reporting back to the Governor and legislature regarding existing hunting and fishing access enhancement programs and other issues related to private lands and public wildlife. Since there are specific sunset provisions attached to these existing programs which must be addressed in the 2005 legislative session, Governor Martz specifically charged the current PL/PW Council with reviewing those programs and the attached sunset provisions and developing any necessary recommendations which the Council may deem appropriate.
The PL/PW Council typically meets four to six times annually at various locations around the state. Council recommendations are developed through a consensus process, with public input solicited during the process of developing final recommendations. Annual reports are typically issued in a December February timeframe. Meetings are open to the public, with public participation either scheduled for specific times during the meeting or accommodated through open-house sessions held outside formal meeting times. Fish, Wildlife, & Parks provides staff assistance to the Council. Current FWP staff liaison to the PL/PW Council is Alan Charles, Coordinator, Landowner/Sportsman Relations.