The 2019 PLWA General Membership Meeting was a success! PLWA held the meeting in Bozeman, where we reunited with PLWA’s friends and supporters.
PLWA President Bernard Lea started the meeting by welcoming members and introducing PLWA Board members and staff. He recognized a generous recent contribution of $5000 by Duke Williams in honor of Carol Gibson. This started an outpouring of generosity, including:
- Rich Inman of the Gallatin Valley Backcountry Horsemen presented a $1500 donation to PLWA and spoke about the partnership between their group and PLWA.
- Michael Chapman of the Snowy Mountain Chapter of Trout Unlimited presented their annual donation of $500.
- Mike Getman of the Central Montana Chapter of Pheasants Forever presented their donation of $500. He shared a story about the failed attempt of a grazing lessee trying to kick off a public hunter off BLM lands, noting agencies often don’t stand up when public access to public lands is threatened.
- A donation by the Pat Barnes chapter of Trout Unlimited.
Thanks so much to everyone for the support. It helps keep Montana such a great place to live.
Next, Mike Penfold summarized the development of the Explore Yellowstone App that will provide geographical, historical, natural resource, historical, and boat access information along the entire length of the Yellowstone River. He and Bernard Lea answered questions about public access to islands in the River. Check out exploreyellowstoneriver.org for more details about this great project.
PLWA’s Executive Director Paul Burdett spoke next, providing background on how he joined PLWA, working part-time in 2018. He updated members about: the Mabee court case; PLWA’s on-going research and legal work to open up access to the Crazy Mountains; other brewing access battles; and the good/bad bills related to public access in the 2019 legislative session. He congratulated the winners of the PLWA’s annual raffle and recognized the generous donations of prizes for that raffle from Ron Stevens, Dennis Grundman, and John Gibson.
PLWA’s Keynote speech was delivered by Raphael Graybill, Chief Counsel for Governor Bullock. The speech was the highlight of the meeting. He spoke eloquently about the debate over whether Land Board approval is required for conservation easements. This controversy culminated in a case before the Supreme Court in October, 2018. The Governor prevailed with a court decision that such approval is not required, which saved the Habitat Montana program. Habitat Montana is a critical tool for securing access through conservation easements. Raphael also answered member’s questions about pending legislation on this issue.
Mary Erickson, Forest Supervisor for the Gallation-Custer National Forest, spoke next about the Forest Service’s priorities and intended actions with regards to improving public access on the west, south, and east-side of the Crazy Mountains.
Drew Hanes, both a board member and PLWA’s director of social media and engagement, gave an update on efforts this past year to expand PLWA’s social media outreach. This engagement is intended to increase memberships and partnerships with other organizations statewide. PLWA is also expanding the type of ways supporters can contribute, such as donations via use of Amazon Smile website and via sale of stocks. You can read more about Planned Giving here.
Finally, we took care of the meeting’s most important business: board elections. Carol Fox, PLWA Board Secretary, facilitated the Board Election process. This year we used a new process that involved nominations from the floor and consideration of all three Board openings on a group basis. After given the opportunity for questions and discussion, members voted via hand-ballots. Following counting of ballots, President Bernard Lea announced that Colter Pearson, Lance Gray, and Glen Elison were elected to the Board. A huge thank you to our exiting Board members for their dedication and service, and please join us in welcoming to our newest board members!
Thank you to all the members who attended the 2019 PLWA Annual Meeting and for the support from those that could not attend. We look forward to seeing you next year!