2017 Citizens for Balanced Use Accomplishments
The 2017 year was very busy for CBU. January 2nd began the 65th session of the Montana Legislature. Many members of CBU travel to Helena during the 90 day session to testify on specific bills that affect our state. From recreation to resources to private property rights, the members of CBU are very diverse and involved. CBU educates our members and supporters in how to testify and engage in the legislative process. We help people understand the complicated process of legislature from drafting, introduction, hearings, and passage or defeat of bills.
Here is a list of bills that the members and supporters testified at hearings during the session. House bills include 434, 498, 481, 97, 305, 311, 324, 454, 597, 240, and 38. Senate bills include 46, 342, 101, 342, 91, 218 and 281. Two House Joint Resolutions were also of interest to our members, HJ 9 and 15. Some of these bills were passed into law and benefited the multiple use recreation in Montana.
After the session CBU was busy attending meetings and conferences. Early May CBU met with the Montana FWP to establish rules to implement the new OHV tracked use of winter snowmobile trails. Even though the state passed this over snow tracked OHV use of snowmobile trails some forests are not willing to allow these vehicles in their forest. This frustrates many elderly users in not being able to enjoy their public lands during the winter months.
May 13th was the annual CBU banquet which was held at the MSU sub ballroom. Our banquet continues to become bigger every year and the funds from this event help support the efforts of CBU. Lots of fun events, thousands of dollars in donated prizes, and an update was given by our executive director on the many successes CBU had during the past year. The grand prize raffle prize was a 2017 Kodiak 700 ATV donated by Yamaha.
We attended the Loggers Association Conference in mid-May and displayed our booth with information about CBU and expressed our support for the people that care for our forests and public lands. Access to these lands for active forest management reduces the fuel loads, reduces forest fires, benefits our environment, provides jobs, supports local communities, and provides access to multiple use recreation. We also testified in May before the Montana Land Board on the importance of multiple use of our State lands.
The Forest Service issued a complete shooting ban in the Hyalite drainage south of Bozeman and CBU attending and testified during a meeting with the Forest Service regarding this emergency order. This ban adversely affected thousands of recreational shooting enthusiasts and CBU does not believe prohibiting recreational shooting in an entire drainage of the Custer Gallatin National Forest is an appropriate action. Since this meeting CBU has been engaged in a collaborative effort to identify areas in this drainage which could be open for recreational shooting. We continue to work with multiple jurisdictions and the Forest Service in an attempt to locate and designate places to sight in rifles and pistols.
CBU also attended the Montana Wildlife Commission meeting on May 25th and 26th to testify against the efforts of Quiet Waters to restrict motorized and jet boats on several rivers and streams in Montana. These restrictions would have prevented fishing opportunities and recreation on areas of streams historically used and enjoyed.
CBU travelled to Great Falls for the Agricultural Summit on May 31st and June 1. The new Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Purdue was in attendance and executive director Kerry White was able to meet and speak with the new Secretary. Explaining the importance of multiple use recreation and active forest management on lands managed by the Forest Service was the topic of the discussion.
During June CBU continued to participate in the Custer Gallatin Working Group and the Hyalite Shooting committee. Field trips to locate shooting sites in Hyalite did provide some options for locations where safe recreational shooting could be provided. The Capitol Trail Riders held their annual fun run on June 16th through the 18th at the Hellgate fishing access on Canyon Ferry Lake. CBU contributed to this event and spoke on the importance of being engaged with the agencies charged with managing our public lands. We provided their members with the current issues facing multiple use recreation and educated them on how to work with these agencies.
The Treasure State Resource Association (TSRA) held their annual conference on June 21st to June 23rd. CBU sponsored this event and displayed our booth with information about our organization. TSRA is a Montana organization representing the many resource industries located in the state and the North West. CBU is proud to be a member of TSRA representing multiple use recreation as an important industry in Montana.
CBU joined the Montana Trails Coalition and met on June 28th in Helena to discuss possible solutions to funding our snowmobile grooming program and the OHV grant program. The federal agencies are not providing the needed funding to maintain our trails and this of great concern to those who recreate. The multiple use community has lost more than 22,000 miles of roads on federally managed public lands in Montana since 1995. Some of these have been closed for lack of maintenance funding and we believe if we are going to keep these opportunities the local clubs and organizations will need to identify funding sources going forward. Several ideas are being discussed such as user fees, increased taxes, and fund raising events. Partnerships are so important in working with the agencies and CBU is always ready to help.
July and August are the months when CBU and our members ride the trails throughout Montana. We spend hundreds of hours clearing and maintaining hundreds of miles of trails. The poor condition of our forest with dead and dying trees has been a challenge with clearing our trails. Our members experience areas where clearing a trail on one weekend will end up needing clearing again the next weekend with blown down timber and trees across the trail. Our efforts benefit all users and most often goes unnoticed by other users. The Forest Service has very limited resources to clear and maintain trails and we appreciate all the different organizations in Montana that work all summer maintaining this infrastructure.
A favorite ride and trail clearing project of CBU is the Big Sky Snowmobile Trail. This trail is on the National Historic Register and begins in Little Bear just South of Gallatin Gateway and continues through the Gallatin National Forest and ending at West Yellowstone. Every summer the Gallatin Valley Snowmobile Association clears, maintains and replaces signs on this trail to provide a winter use opportunity second to none.
More shooting meetings and collaborative meetings in September were attended. A new club was organized in the Gallatin valley named the Five Rivers Trail Riders which CBU provided financial support in getting them up and running. We attended their inaugural ride on September 23rd in the Storm Castle Creek drainage in the Gallatin National Forest. A great event and this club will be a great additional to our multiple use recreation family. The very next weekend was another ride in the Pipestone area of the Beaverhead Deerlodge National Forest East of Butte. Many folks from Helena, Bozeman, Butte and beyond enjoyed the ride and cleanup of the area trails.
CBU travelled to Darby on September 29th to give a presentation on the Health Effects of Wildfire Smoke. Concerned with the endless days every summer of smoke, CBU has put together a power point with information to educate the public on the health hazards of this smoke. Cancer causing carcinogens and particulates should concern everyone. Burning our forest every summer should not be an acceptable practice of management but litigation filed by extreme environmental groups has caused gridlock in forest management. CBU works very hard to educate the public on the benefits of active forest harvests to provide jobs, support rural communities, reduce adverse effects of smoke, improve water quality by harvesting timber, and improve wildlife habitat and our environment. The extreme environmentalists have turned litigation against forest management into and business of collecting Equal Access to Justice Act funds rather than doing timber harvest that benefit to people. A selfish act of destroying wildlife, property, watersheds, and our environment is being done for the simple purpose of money.
CBU has worked to identify the many groups that portray themselves as so called recreation and hunting groups and found many of these groups do not support access to multiple use recreation, active forest management, or responsible resource development on our federally managed public lands, Efforts have been made on the part of organizations such as www.greendecoys.com to track the money to these organizations. CBU supports efforts like this to educate the public on where our opposition gets their funding.
In October CBU attended another CGWG collaboration and Hyalite shooting meeting. We also arranged an education meeting on situation awareness where we were trained on confrontational situations and how to defuse possible violence that may arise. This training provided us with the tools we may need with all the public meetings our members attend.
In November CBU travelled to Hamilton to present our Heath Effects of Wildfire Smoke at another meeting. This was well attended with over 100 residents from the Hamilton area. CBU also worked with the ranchers in the Willow Creek area on their negotiations with DNRC on the Willow Creek Dam and retaining their water rights. CBU is a strong supporter of private property rights and the ability to use their water for irrigation and livestock.
In December CBU participated in the SCI and GVSA Christmas parties to celebrate with friends and family to many blessings we have and are working every day to protect and continue to enjoy. CBU is an all-inclusive organization working to protect access for everyone. The elderly, handicapped, physically challenged, disabled, wounded veterans, and families, all should have access to our public lands. We will continue educating the public on the importance of access to these lands for the social, economic, and mental benefits they provide. CBU thanks all our members and supporters for their efforts and financial support during the 2017 year. As we celebrate our 13th year we look forward to 2018 and more success as an organization.
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