Our point of view

Jeff HagenerGood news from the 2009 legislative session

The 2009 legislative session was another in which lawmakers debated dozens of bills affecting people interested in fish, wildlife, and state parks. Their often-impassioned discussions about hunting, fishing, and parks legislation showed the importance Montanans place on the resources this department is entrusted with managing and conserving.

Of the many bills that passed, we consider these among the most significant:

The department was particularly pleased with a bill that applies the good neighbor policy to all FWP lands. Sponsored by Senator Debby Barrett of Dillon, SB 164 requires that before FWP buys any new property, we must develop a noxious weed management plan for the site. The department must also set aside the equivalent of 20 percent of the purchase price, up to $300,000, to go into a land maintenance account. The account may be used to fund operations and maintenance on any FWP lands, including fishing access sites, wildlife management areas, and state parks.

This legislation will help FWP be a better land steward and neighbor. We’ll use the fund to improve fencing and signage, grade roads, pick up trash, control weeds, and conduct other aspects of land operations and maintenance. The new fund will be particularly valuable for the state’s 320-plus fishing access sites. In addition to the maintenance listed above, these FWP lands need boundary fencing, parking areas, boat ramps, latrines, and signs indicating recreational opportunities.

I like that this new legislation allows us to put additional resources on the ground so that FWP lands can benefit recreational users while not inconveniencing neighboring landowners. More recreational opportunities on public land with fewer impositions on private
property—that’s a combination hard to beat.

For details on these or other bills passed by the 2009 Montana Legislature, visit http://leg.mt.gov and enter the bill number.Bear bullet


Joe Maurier is Director of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks