Opinion: Legislature’s tags for guides bypasses revenue, locks out hunters
On April 28th, the legislature passed in both houses a bill that includes 3,000 guaranteed tags for outfitters. If this sounds familiar and surprises you, it should.
This passed in spite of the fact that Montanans abolished these tags by ballot measure, and the bill that was introduced this session trying to overturn that measure was killed after having public hearings. This breaks my heart, it really does.
At $5,000 per guided hunt (intentionally conservative) this just resulted in $15,000,000 of guaranteed government revenue to be used to lease up land and keep you off. At $15 million with around 400 guides, it is roughly $38,000 per outfitter. No more complaints about the $1200 stimulus please.
The flip side is they upped by $7,500 the payments for those few (less than 20) Montana landowners who maxed out on allowing public hunting days in block management. You do the math on that, compare it to the numbers above and see who values public access and public land and who doesn’t.
Remember who did this to you today by voting in favor of House Bill 637. Not just for the day, and not just for tomorrow, next week or next month, but for the next two years and the years after that. If public access matters to you, vote like it, otherwise stop being mad.
The cards have never been more clearly laid on the table than they were today. This bill was dead for a month, shoved in on the next to last day of the session, voted the same day it was introduced by both houses without public hearing in a bill that had nothing to do with outfitters. None of this is an accident and they are counting on you to not notice and not remember. Prove them wrong or stop being mad.
You likely belong to organizations that are related to the outdoors. Find out who went to battle on this, really went to battle. Ask the others you belong to why they didn’t. If they are no longer serving you as a member, get them to change, leave, or stop being mad.
My vote and your vote will not be enough, we each have to change 5 votes, or even 10. We all say we care about public access but what happened today is evidence that they don’t care about public hunting or public access, they don’t care about you and they certainly don’t think you will change your vote. Prove them wrong or stop being mad.
Andrew Posewitz is a fourth-generation Montanan and a fierce public land advocate who returned to Montana to raise his family after a 25-year hiatus. Upon his return, he is concerned about the loss of public land and access to that land for his two daughters and everyone who loves our public places. He served as Chief of Staff in the State Auditor’s office and provided advice on Land Board Issues in Montana.