Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Comments sought on hunting & fishing license fee increases, land and water control

Sorry to interrupt your summer, but I thought you should know earlier this month legislative interim committees I am assigned to held three days of intense public hearings on a number of high priority environmental issues including Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks (FWP) proposal to increase hunting and fishing license fees, ongoing analysis of the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) Water Compact, a draft report on Montana’s Study of Federal Land Management (SJ-15 Study), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new rule seeking increased federal regulation of state waters.

Below are brief summaries with links to help you review pertinent info and submit comments.

FWP HUNTING LICENSE FEE INCREASE: Montana legislature’s Environmental Quality Council (EQC) received a report from Fish, Wildlife and Park’s License and Funding Advisory Council (LFAC) which conveyed strong public support for increasing hunting and fishing license fees throughout Montana. I am really interested in YOUR thoughts on this.

Comments on FWP hunting & fishing license fee increase and license restructuring can be submitted by August 16, 2014 to hstockwell@mt.gov

LFAC’s Draft Report on proposed changes to License Fees & Structure:

The Draft legislation LFAC wants to send to the legislature in early 2015 is here: leg.mt.gov/content/Committees/Interim/2013-2014/EQ...4.pdf

CSKT WATER COMPACT: The legislatures’ Water Policy Interim Committee (WPIC) received a preliminary update on independent scientific analysis we asked the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology to head up.

The amount of water necessary to fulfill the purpose of the reservation needs to be quantified to ensure the federally reserved water rights in the compact are compliant with federal court decisions. Such quantification has not yet been done, and at this point the Bureau of Mines scientific working group is unsure if they will be able to quantify the amount of water involved in the compact prior to the 2015 legislative session. Without making this determination in advance, I expect the compact -- if approved by the legislature -- will be mired in uncertainty and litigation for many years.

We also heard three hours of extraordinary public testimony from several NW Montana citizens opposing the Unitary Management Ordinance (UMO), an element of the CSKT Compact that would establish a tribally dominated board to administer the irrigation water on both tribal and non-tribal lands.

The main concern with the UMO is giving the tribe jurisdiction over water rights of not only tribal members but also non-tribal members, causing jurisdictional and constitutional uncertainty, as well as the question of who would receive enough water to stay in business and who wouldn't.

Disturbing evidence from Tribal Council minutes was presented to WPIC highlighting the Tribal Council’s refusal to lease agricultural lands to a farmer because he opposes the Compact. Opponents of the compact say the same thing is likely to happen with their water rights if the tribe is granted control via the UMO. This is a real concern as tribal proceedings do not adhere to the same laws or doctrines of fairness and open public meetings required of state government.

Comments on the CSKT Compact can be submitted to WPIC via JasonMohr@mt.gov

Comprehensive information on the CSKT Compact from the concerned citizens perspective can be found here: westernmtwaterrights.wordpress.com/about

The official Montana Reserved Water Rights Compact Commission documents are here: www.dnrc.mt.gov/rwrcc/Compacts/CSKT

MONTANA’S STUDY OF FEDERAL LAND MANAGEMENT: On July 15, Montana legislature’s Environmental Quality Council (EQC) released a draft report evaluating federal land management for a thirty day public comment period. Key findings from the report are summed up as follows:
"Risks and concerns associated with federal land management are serious and numerous. Survey results from county commissioners, analysis of available information, and testimony received from citizens, agency staff, interest groups, elected officials and experts affirm the urgent need to correct the way federal public lands are managed."
"It is imperative to achieve better and more active management of public lands to a) aid in reducing dangerous wildfire fuel loads, b) increase economic productivity, c) protect and provide multiple use public access, and d) increase wildlife diversity and carrying capacity where desirable."

Much more detail can be found in the main report which is here: leg.mt.gov/content/Committees/Interim/2013-2014/EQ...s.pdf and the Appendices here: leg.mt.gov/content/Committees/Interim/2013-2014/EQ...s.pdf

The bi-partisan EQC recommended the legislature pursue transferring federally controlled public lands to the state only after all other options have been investigated. I remain interested in any and all solutions that will bring about responsible public land management.

Public comments on SJ-15 can be submitted by August 16, 2014 to: jkolman@mt.gov

NEW EPA RULE – WATERS OF THE U.S: Most opinions shared by members of the legislature’s bi-partisan Environmental Quality Council (EQC) and Water Policy Interim Committee (WPIC) expressed concern with EPA’s proposed rule which would greatly broaden federal powers over Montana’s waters and related activities of our citizens.

For decades the federal government has been attempting to increase control over land, air, and water while the states have generally exerted efforts to maintain more reasonable state-based environmental protections. Do you want to see more control of our lives, lands, wildlife, and waters handed over to Washington DC? The EPA is accepting public comment until October 20, 2014.

Submit your comments by Oct 20, 2014, identified by Docket ID No. EPA–HQ– OW–2011–0880 by one of the following methods:

• Federal Rulemaking Portal: www.regulations.gov Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
• Email: ow-docket@epa.gov Include EPA–HQ–OW–2011–0880 in the subject line of the message.

WRAPPING UP THE INTERIM: Montana’s Water Policy Interim Committee will meet Sept 8-9, and again one final time in October. The Environmental Quality Council will wrap up this interim’s work on Sept 10-11. In late September, I will be taking the EPA water issue up at Legislative Council on River Governance, a four-state bi-partisan council which I chair. The state legislature will reconvene as a whole from early January to late April 2015.

Remember - Informed public input is very important. Feel free to contact me directly to discuss the issue before you comment for the record. If/when you submit official comments on any of these items, please also cc your comments to me at sen.jfielder@legmt.gov


Senator Jennifer Fielder, R – Thompson Falls
Montana State Senate District 7
P.O. Box 2558
Thompson Falls, MT 59873
www.jenniferfielder.us chumly.com/attachment/18647819


Sunday, July 20, 2014

We met some friendly Hessians at Two Rivers Rendezvous, near Libby, MT

Paul & I sure enjoyed hearing entertaining tales from German emigrants Harald & Christine Greser who emulated Hessian defectors from the American Revolution at Two Rivers Rendezvous this weekend. Glad they came over to our side!


Having fun with Kids Trade Blanket activity at Two Rivers Rendezvous!

Had a blast with friends from near and far at the primitive camp out near Libby, MT this weekend.


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Brought home 3 weeks of firewood in 3 hours...

What a pleasant, cool summer morning to be out in the woods... Perfect day to round up a couple standing dead lodge pole trees for our family firewood supply. In addition to heating the homes of so many local families, allowing firewooders to remove dead and down trees improves forest health by reducing wildfire hazard and letting sunlight through to stimulate the growth of other trees and forage for wildlife. Just one more reason why it is so important we provide and protect public access on public lands.


Friday, July 11, 2014

Young Colton Wormwood tells the amazing story of his grandpa who still leads an active life even after losing an arm and a leg while serving our country.

A shot form the 2014 Tri State Veteran's Standown (organized by billy Hill on right). I stand in aw of those who have sacrificed, large and small, near and far, to defend our freedoms. THANK YOU!


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Back at the Capitol for interim meetings this week.

Water Policy Interim Committee and Environmental Quality Council meetings on Tues-Weds-Thurs will involve discussions on: new EPA rule for Clean Water Act; Montana State Water Plan; CSKT Compact; Federal Land Study results; possible new hunting license fee increases, the Virginia City study, and a few other hot topics. For more info or to watch online go to the Legislative Info page on my web site at www.jenniferfielder.us and click on committees - Water Policy and/or EQC.