Viewpoint: Montana’s conservation movement won’t be distracted
Becky Edwards and Whitney Tawney
As working mamas, we are emblematic of many Mountain Mamas across our state. Just last week as we teamed up to plan an important public lands rally at the capitol, Whitney was also taking care of her sick kiddo at home, on top of all of her other duties as executive director.
Just three days later, it was Becky’s turn — with kids home sniffling with fevers.
Our laptops are still open and our calendars remain “available” as we plan everything from testimony for the next hearing at our state’s capitol, a lobbying trip to Washington, D.C., and the Rally for Public Lands in Helena next week…all amid the daily demands of being working moms.
To the mamas reading this, it’s nothing new. We know that life is full of hard things, and that when it comes to what matters to us most, distractions just make things worse. What we do is balance the work, tackle the hard problems and never let the small stuff distract us from our core values.
We get the important stuff done, because that’s what women do. But what has become glaringly obvious is that this is not what is happening during the 68th Montana Legislature.
Instead of dealing with important issues like climate change or protecting critical habitat in the face of booming development, our elected representatives are avoiding the hard work by focusing on divisive cultural distractions. Why? So they can amend Montana’s constitution to take away our right to a clean and healthy environment. Because they think we won’t notice when they steal over $30 million of voter-approved marijuana revenue from Habitat Montana, one of our state’s best tools to protect and access public lands.
While our middle schoolers are taught about the importance and foresight of Montana’s constitution, our representatives are working to dismantle it. They’re proposing bills limiting our right to privacy and our kids’ and everyone else's constitutionally guaranteed right to a clean and healthful environment.
We’re mamas with jobs, needy kids, and messy houses, but we will not be distracted by our representatives' attempts to co-opt what Montana voters have already approved.
Mamas know we are stronger together, our voices carry further, and it's up to us to make a bright future for our kids. That’s why for the rest of this legislative session, Mountain Mamas and Montana Conservation Voters are partnering to advocate for the protection of the Montana constitution, for our right to a clean and healthful environment, and for the right for our kids to grow up dipping their toes in cold, clear rivers and taking their first deer on our public lands.
We’re raising our families in Montana because of the rich outdoor quality of life, the vibrant communities we call home, and the neighbors who will give us that extra cup of sugar for Sunday’s pie. We refuse to buy into the culture war meant to pit us against each other, while our Montana way of life is attacked by angry, rear-facing, (usually male) “representatives.”
We’re telling our elected officials not to ignore our votes and remember Montanans voted for recreational marijuana knowing a sizable chunk of the tax revenue would go to conservation. With population growth, we need more money for conservation not less. They better not think about stealing the funds we voted for and should kill HB 462.
We’re rallying for our public lands in Helena on February 23, letting our kids miss school to see democracy in action. We will show up to testify when needed; send out action alerts; and do it all whether or not we have noses to wipe, dinner to fix, or a grant to write. We will do it because it’s what Mamas do. We are the mamas of Montana’s conservation movement and we will not be distracted.
Becky Edwards is the executive director of the Mountain Mamas, and lives in Bozeman with her husband and three daughters. Whitney Tawney is executive director of the Montana Conservation Voters Education Fund and lives in Bozeman with her husband and almost five year old son, Henry.