Since moving to wonderful Missoula in 1979, I've met countless folks who love the state of Montana and its people as much as I do. Many seem to have a deep understanding, awareness and compassion for all Montanans. Some of these same people make it their business to study and learn facts about how to have our state be prosperous and productive. I can say that I'm among those who have done considerable listening and learning.
My 30-plus years working in the medical world (hospice, home care, hospital and medical clinic settings) here in Missoula has taught me the importance of each precious Montana life. What a joy it is for me to meet and get to know political candidates like Willis Curdy running for HD98 who believe as I do that all Montanans have a basic right and need for quality health care.
Willis has researched the fact that if our state addresses the health care needs of all Montanans, we can also improve business productivity, job growth and support our state's economy. We need to elect a candidate like Willis Curdy who doesn't just talk about helping minorities, veterans, folks with disabilities, etc.—he gets out there and works for all to have a chance at a quality life. His years helping our children reach their full potential by tirelessly teaching school in our community, along with countless community service activities has not gone unnoticed. I confidently endorse Willis Curdy. He deserves our vote.
For over 60 years, the Montana Outfitters and Guides Association has served as an important voice for the outfitting industry and as a key partner in decisions that effect the management of public land and wildlife resources. We are proud to represent over 200 member businesses across the state that offer a wide variety of outfitting and guiding services. Together, these businesses play a vital role in Montana’s tourism economy and help maintain the culture and traditions of ethical sportsmanship.
MOGA was formed to represent the interests of the outfitting industry and to bring an important business voice to bear on conservation and land management issues affecting Montana. Our members see the preservation and protection of critical landscapes and outdoor traditions as extremely important to all user groups. These landscapes and the wildlife habitat they provide are not only critical to our industry but to the very fabric of who we are as Montanans. We recognize that these special places remain with us today because of the hard work and vision of the many people who have come before us.
The Rocky Mountain Front is one such place. From the establishment of the Sun River Game Range in 1948 to the creation of the Bob Marshall Wilderness in 1964 and the Scapegoat Wilderness in 1972, folks along the Front have long demonstrated the forethought and fortitude required to keep this exceptional landscape intact. The job of maintaining such landscapes falls to all of us and is refreshingly bipartisan.
Montana’s congressional delegation, Democrat and Republican alike, have also shown great leadership where the Rocky Mountain Front is concerned. Perhaps the best example of this leadership is the successful withdrawal of federal mineral leases from the area, which was accomplished by former Sens. Conrad Burns and Max Baucus in 2006. We firmly believe that on issues of wildlife conservation and land management, actions should transcend partisan politics and the Rocky Mountain Heritage Act is a good example of an act that is beneficial to Montanans regardless of their political persuasion.
However, as it stands right now, there is no permanent plan to safeguard the unique character of the Front for future Montanans.
Recently, MOGA’s board of directors voted unanimously to support the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act. Under the bill, recreational and agricultural uses that exist today, including grazing and outfitting, will continue to be enjoyed by future generations. The bill prioritizes noxious weed control and limits new road building while preserving motorized recreation and public access for hunting, biking, forest thinning and grazing, and will be mindful of private property rights.
We support the proposed Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act as a common-sense approach that will help keep the Front the way it is for our kids and grandkids. The wild lands of the Front support some of the best deer, elk and bighorn sheep hunting in the country, which in turn supports our businesses and the local communities where we reside. In 2009, it was reported that travel expenditures by nonresident visitors to Montana totaled more than $2.3 billon, creating thousands of jobs and contributing significantly through state and local taxes and basic take home pay. Outfitting is known to bring in $167 million a year to Montana’s economy and creates thousands of full and part-time jobs.
MOGA has communicated our support for the Heritage Act to our congressional delegation with the hope of uniting them behind this made-in-Montana plan. We believe the time is right to build on the legacy of conservation along the Front by passing this bill for all Montanans.
Montana Outfitters and Guides Association
Christi Turner’s April 3 column was right on target (see “Nip it in the bud”). If marijuana were fully legal there would be no backcountry grows on public land. Legitimate farmers would produce it by the ton at a fraction of the current cost. There is a reason you don’t see drug cartels sneaking into national forests to cultivate tomatoes and cucumbers. They cannot compete with a legal market.
If the goal of marijuana prohibition is to subsidize drug cartels, prohibition is a success. The drug war distorts supply and demand dynamics so that big money grows on little trees. If the goal is to deter use, marijuana prohibition is a failure. The United States has almost double the rate of marijuana use as the Netherlands, where marijuana is legal.
The criminalization of Americans who prefer marijuana to martinis has no basis in science. The war on marijuana consumers is a failed cultural inquisition, not an evidence-based public health campaign. Not just in Colorado and Washington state, but throughout the nation, it’s time to stop the pointless arrests and instead tax legal marijuana.
Common Sense for Drug Policy
Recent stories about a Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes U.S. District Court water lawsuit contained several inaccuracies. The lawsuit is asking the federal court to apply established federal law as it pertains to reserved water rights. To say the CSKT lawsuit claims tribal ownership of all the water is simply wrong. The tribal motivation of filing the lawsuit is to address a concerning situation where several parties are making water claims in state courts, but neither the tribes nor the United States are part of those suits.
This lawsuit is in no way intended to disrupt negotiations with the Montana Reserved Water Rights Compact Commission and the United States, which all share the goal of getting a CSKT water compact approved in the 2015 legislature.
This narrowly tailored lawsuit asks the federal court to declare the ownership of water delivered by the Flathead Indian Irrigation Project.
Some have tried to define this lawsuit as a tribal legal claim to all water, when in reality this claim only addresses water rights claims inside of FIIP.
The tribes expressly informed the court that it was not the tribes’ intention to quantify anybody’s water rights as a result of this lawsuit.
The tribes filed the suit to seek an end to the numerous conflicting, inconsistent, and expensive state court litigations filed by the Flathead Irrigation District and the Western Water User’s Association. As said upfront, this federal suit was an effort to protect tribal rights.
This litigation addresses many of the arguments raised by opponents to the compact that did not pass the 2013 legislature and provides an avenue to have the court decide these issues.
Just want to thank you for the wonderful Comix Issue edition. It captured Missoula so well, better somehow than words alone.
Kudos to you and all of the cartoonists.