by Amy Seaman, Conservation Program Manager, Montana Audubon
In less than a month, the 66th Montana Legislature will convene, launching Montana Audubon into a four-month frenzy of researching, strategizing, testifying, and lobbying on bills that affect Montana’s wildlife, wildlife habitat, and bedrock environmental laws. With a federal backdrop of attacks on the Endangered Species Act, Sage Grouse conservation plans, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the Clean Water Rule, we are likely to see emboldened attacks on state-level regulations at home. We already know that a number of challenges to our primary conservation issues are coming. This includes challenges to the continuation of the Habitat Montana program (a Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks habitat protection program), challenges to the state Greater Sage-grouse conservation program, challenges to conservation easements and keeping public lands in public hands, and challenges to increasing clean energy emphasis and climate change solutions.
Affecting state policy is not easy. That’s why we are excited to announce the Montana-raised and educated (as a recent University of Montana graduate) Wyatt Smith, as our 2019 Legislative Assistant. With this added capacity, you can be sure that our Montana Audubon team will be in the halls every day fighting challenges to conservation, and supporting proactive legislation and sufficient budgets to protect our wildlife, our public lands, and to keep our outdoor heritage intact. As always, one of our priorities will be preventing the rollback of existing public safeguards and state environmental standards. Unfortunately, we have to work hard each session to prevent these rollbacks, by defeating or weakening dozens of bills that would lessen protections for our state’s water, air, wildlife habitat, and public participation and transparency in government. Our team will also do our best to bring you, our fellow advocates, the information you need to raise your voice. During the session, we will help host a handful of citizen lobby days (usually one a month), and we will maintain an active “Action Alert Network” to deliver weekly updates on legislative priorities and how you can help.
Each of us has a lot to lose if we don’t act. You can support Montana Audubon’s valuable legislative work in three primary ways:
- Donate to help support face-to-face contact with legislators, send action alerts at critical times, and defend Montana’s natural heritage.
- sign up for our action alert network by visiting www.mtaudubon.org – and encourage others in your chapter to join!
- spend a day at the Capitol lobbying by our side
- And, don’t forget, you can do all three!
Here is a little more about Wyatt whom we are excited to welcome to our team. Wyatt Smith is a native Montanan who grew up in Missoula and has spent time living in Seattle, WA, Kenai, AK, and Cork, Ireland. Wyatt graduated from the University of Montana with a double major in Economics and Political Science in the spring of 2018. During college, he led Model United Nation teams to New York City for the National Model United Nations Conference, was a member of the cycling team, a Senator for the Associated Students of Montana, and volunteer debate coach. Before joining Montana Audubon for the session, Wyatt worked in radio as a production director, producer, and podcast coordinator; He also worked in Alaska as a commercial fishing scale operator. Wyatt found his love for the outdoors working on trout restoration projections, hunting, fishing, biking, skiing, and reading John Muir.
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