Governor rolls out land and public access agenda
By Moosetrack Megan

Posted: June 16, 2016
Governor Bullock Introduces His Public Lands & Access Agenda to Bozeman
Governor’s Plan Underscores Importance of Montana’s Outdoor Recreation Economy, Jobs, and Access to Public Lands
BOZEMAN, Mont. –Governor Steve Bullock today introduced details of his public lands and access agenda to southwest Montana and the Bozeman communities, saying it’s his “responsibility as governor” to uphold the Montana value of protecting the state’s outdoor heritage.
“Public access to public lands is a fundamental part of what it means to be a Montanan,” said Governor Bullock. “And it’s my responsibility as governor to uphold this Montana value – now and in the years to come.”
The Governor was joined by members of Bozeman’s outdoor recreation and tourism industries as he unveiled his plans to expand and protect public access to public lands and waters throughout Montana.
PK Kirwan, Director of Marketing for Wisetail, said, “From our perspective the public lands of Montana and the lifestyle they afford are a competitive advantage for our company. Access to public lands is a key part of our wellness program and a big draw for creative people who want to work in a fast-paced tech world while enjoying the outdoor lifestyle Montana has to offer.”
Governor Bullock introduced the following plans to expand and protect public access to public lands in Montana:
·         To create the “Montana Office of Outdoor Recreation,” housed in the Governor’s Office of Economic Development;
·         Create and hire a new position, a “Public Access Specialist” for Montana within the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, whose role will be to troubleshoot specific issues preventing full public access to public lands (as of today the position is currently accepting applications);
·         Ask the legislature to fully fund Habitat Montana, which uses license fees to increase access to public lands but was recently frozen by lawmakers;
·         Call on Montanans to solicit ideas about how to improve access to public lands throughout Montana by utilizing the email address; and
·         Recommit his unequivocal stance against transferring or selling of public lands.
“These plans are not only the right thing to do for Montanans and their families and future generations, they’re also the right thing to do for Montana’s economy and our small businesses,” Governor Bullock continued.
Bullock was joined by Gray Thornton, CEO of the Wild Sheep Foundation, PK Kirwan, Marketing Director of Wisetail LMS, and Robin Cunningham of Headwater Guide Service and Fishing Outfitters Association of Montana to discuss the growing importance of public lands in Montana.
Groups from across the state praised Governor Bullock’s announcement.
We’re grateful the governor is making public lands a priority in his administration,” said Brian Sybert, Executive Director of Montana Wilderness Association. His agenda is a testament to how much Montanans value public lands and underscores just how important outdoor recreation is to our way of life and our economy.
“Every Montana outdoor recreationist and thoughtful business person in Montana knows that access to public lands and water for fishing, hunting, hiking, and camping is absolutely gold for our state,” said Bruce Farling, Executive Director of Montana Trout Unlimited. “Governor Bullock not only recognizes this, but he’s doing something about it with this valuable initiative aimed at improving recreational access and lifting the unpopular legislative hold on our Habitat Montana program.”
“We are very excited about Governor Bullock’s announcement today,” said Robert Sanders, Manager of Conservation Programs for Ducks Unlimited. “Every tool that we can add to our toolbox of making sure Montanans have the opportunity to hunt, fish, and recreate on our public lands is a big step forward for the entire state.”
A 2013 report by the Center for Western Priorities, a Denver-based think tank, identified 4 million acres of Forest Service, BLM, state and other public lands, in six Western states, that were completely inaccessible. Montana had the largest share – nearly 2 million areas – of this “landlocked” public domain.
The University of Montana’s Crown of the Continent and Greater Yellowstone Initiative recently conducted a statewide survey about the growing importance of public lands in Montana.
Governor Bullock has been a long-time advocate of improving access to Montana’s public lands and water and he is committed to strengthening the robust economy and Montana jobs that rely on outdoor recreation and tourism.