Tuesday, January 16, 2018

EMWH Big Timber Meeting Cancelled

Jan. 16, 2017

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Open Meeting Update - Cancelled

This morning, I called FWP Region Supervisor Beck, officially, the meeting on the 17th was cancelled by Comm. Stuker. It has not been rescheduled for another time, date, or location.

"While the meeting wasn’t officially noticed, it was open to the public and Commission Stuker had planned to take public comment." 

To those of you who planned on attending, as I was planning, thank you for your concern and intended public participation.

But, we still need to address the issue of way over objective elk concentrations in HD 580, partly due to public access issues and outfitting. Comm. Vermillion's suggestion of going antlerless in HD 580, has been brought up by others as part of the season setting changes for HD 580 before. This is a public process, FWP needs to hear your voice on the matter.

Also, there is another season setting issue with Region 2's HD 215, near Elliston, at the Spotted Dog Wildlife Management Area (WMA). This WMA was purchased for winter range for the wildlife. We should not be having a shoulder season hunt on public lands, especially on a WMA for winter habitat. The shoulder seasons were "sold" as a means to drive off elk, from private lands, to public lands, where they would be publicly accessible, not harbored, in areas that were over objective.

So here is the ask...
Please participate in the public process, take a few moments, 
  • Send your public comment email to FWP ( fwpwld@mt.gov )or fill out the form on their page (link above)
  • The comment deadline is Wednesday, January 24 at 5 PM.
  • Please also request HD 580 go antlerless and no shoulder season hunt on HD 215.
  • And it would be a great help, if the public would demand FWP update their woefully outdated Statewide Elk Management Plan (2004), instead of continually kicking the can down the bloody road!

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Kathryn QannaYahu
Helena, MT
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Thursday, January 11, 2018

EMWH notice ....Private Public meeting set up By Crazy Mtns Outfiiter and landowner

Jan. 10, 2017

"Montana’s populist roots promoted early adoption of statutory 'open records' mandates. Montana’s first open records law was passed six years after statehood in 1895 and guaranteed: Every citizen has a right to inspect and to take a copy of any public writings of this state … (and) every public officer having the custody of a public writing … is bound to give (citizens) on demand a certified copy of it. 
The American people deserve to know that their elected leaders play by the exact same rules that they play by and that their lawmakers' only interest is what's best for the country, not their own financial gain.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/k/kirstengil623961.html
The American people deserve to know that their elected leaders play by the exact same rules that they play by and that their lawmakers' only interest is what's best for the country, not their own financial gain. Kirsten Gillibrand
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/k/kirstengil623961.html
The American people deserve to know that their elected leaders play by the exact same rules that they play by and that their lawmakers' only interest is what's best for the country, not their own financial gain. Kirsten Gillibrand
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/k/kirstengil623961.html
Peter Michael Meloy, attorney and author of the Montana Open Government Guide

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Open Meeting?

A meeting has been called, with officials from the executive and legislative branches on a matter, which by law makes it an open meeting – yet, this meeting is anything but “open”. 
I have long been an advocate of open government. I read the laws so that I know my rights, the public's rights. And there have been times I have had to print those rights out and take them to meetings or cite them to officials, to make sure our rights are not ignored. For example, my taking audio of public meetings for transparency and accountability. There are no questions or “he said, she said” confusion when audio exists.

There has been ongoing controversy on two storm fronts, which have collided in the Crazy Mountains: public access and over objective elk numbers.

For years I have advocated against shoulder seasons, since FWP is not following their Statewide Elk Management Plan, which they are required to do; nor have they updated it. Part of the issue involves the State's requirement to manage the elk to objective. I will not go into all the finer points of how our state wildlife agency has gotten themselves into this pickle, that can be reviewed here. 

I got a call this morning with some interesting information about a meeting being set up.

Some details involved:

1. HD 580 (eastside Crazy Mountains) has an elk objective of 975, yet 580's 2017 elk count was 4846. Based on "FWP's Estimated Elk Numbers Assuming 80% of Elk Are Observed" – that would make the elk population about 6058. This is a huge problem to landowners with agriculture to have losses due to the over populated elk and potential property damage, for example fences.

2. One of FWP's season setting public meetings is in Big Timber, Jan. 18th, 7 pm at the library.

3. In Brett French's article in the Billings Gazette, FWP, some commissioners at odds over Montana's extended elk season, FWP Commissioner Dan Vermillion addressed HD 580, "Vermillion pointed to Hunting District 580, on the east side of the Crazy Mountains, as an example of why Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks should go to a cow-only elk hunt in specific areas. He said elk populations for the district are 200 percent over objective. The objectives are based on landowner tolerance."

4. Chuck Rein is a Crazy Mountain landowner (HD 580); Vice-President of Montana Outfitters and Guides Association; an outfitter that profits from public resources (like antlered bull elk) and public lands; holds a FS outfitting permit in HD 580; a member of the state and local stockgrowers associations; aggressively pursued actions against Yellowstone District Ranger Alex Sienkiewicz for doing his job, following policy on multiple use in the Crazy Mountains, including meeting with officials, bringing Sienkiewicz up to the Stockgrowers meetings, resulting in letters from both the local Crazy Mountain Stockgrowers and Montana Stockgrowers Association to Senator Daines, USFS Chief Tidwell; Rein was also part of a landowner group letter to the same legislator and officials, including USDA Sec. Perdue - resulting in Sienkiewicz' removal and investigation (thankfully, he was reinstated).

So Chuck Rein calls FWP Commissioner Richard Stucker recently (the Ag representative) from Chinook, about the antlerless comment/season setting, to set up a meeting. The meeting is scheduled the day before FWP's public meeting. You might think that if Rein had questions or concerns, he could participate in the public process on the 18th, like everyone else. 

A meeting has been set up for Jan. 17, 1:00 pm, at the NRCS Bldg in Big Timber, which I confirmed all these details with FWP Bark Beck and Dan Vermillion.

What is really interesting is who all is invited:

  • Chuck Rein – landowner/outfitter in HD 580/Vice-President of Montana Outfitters & Guides Association/Stockgrowers members
  • Nathan Anderson – landowner HD 580, also President of the Crazy Mountain Stockgrowers Association and signer to the letters and efforts against FS Sienkiewicz
  • Jay Bodner - Montana Stockgrowers Association
  • Richard Stuker - FWP Commissioner
  • Dan Vermillion - FWP Commissioner
  • Nels Swandal - Senator SD 30 (R)
  • Alan Redfield - Representative HD 59 (R)
  • Barb Beck - FWP Reg. 5 Supervisor
  • Justin Paugh - Reg. 5 FWP Wildlife Biologist

Rein didn't just suggest that since these people might happen to be in the area for the public meeting on the 18th, let's meet to have a beer and shoot the shit! And why the Legislators, when this isn't a legislative matter?

Now, when you look at Montana open meeting laws, this many Executive branch officials and 2 State legislators (and if any public monies are spent for them to attend) - discussing policy/actions, or conducting business, you have an open meeting, which the public can attend. Montana Open Government Guide states, "Indeed, any time the body meets to hear, discuss, or act on any matter, the meeting is deemed to be open regardless of the matter to be discussed."

This subject involves three issues: public resources (and their management), and at times public access and public lands - which should be open and transparent.

This meeting smacks of the same Rein maneuvering/alignment he used against Yellowstone District Ranger Sienkiewicz to get him removed. 

So what exactly is going on here? 

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Enhancing Montana's Wildlife & Habitat

Thank you,
Kathryn QannaYahu
Helena, MT
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Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Jack Atcheson Tribute from PLWA.......A LTE from Jack Sr. in the Mont. Standard.....Mont. Standard Obit

The Passing of an Access Warrior – Jack Atcheson Sr.

On Wednesday, December 27, 2017, Jack Atcheson Sr., who was 85, peacefully passed away, in his home town of Butte.
Jack’s funeral will be January 4, 1:00 pm at St. Patrick’s Church, 329 W Mercury St, Butte, MT 59701
Tony Schoonen will be providing the eulogy.
In addition to being a hunter/angler, combat veteran and business owner, Jack Atcheson Sr. was a dedicated advocate for public lands and stream access in Montana.
In a PLWA interview on access, Jack passionately stated, “If we don’t keep it for the kid’s generation coming up, they’re losing it; they’re losing it almost everyday. Somebody has to fight, and I’m glad we’re all part of it.”
Jack’s access battling began on Oct. 1978, when three Montana hunters, one of which was Jack Atcheson Sr., were sharptail hunting in Malta, north of the Milk River, on BLM land. They tried to hunt the connected “blue colored” Montana state school trust lands section on the map, only to have the grazing lessee drive up in his pickup truck threatening them, “You guys get the hell off my land now!”
This incident sparked Atcheson’s quest to find out about these “blue” State school trust lands, joined by Tony Schoonen and later Jack Jones.
On March 31, 1980, Jack Atcheson Sr., Tony Schoonen, and Jack Jones formed and filed the Montana Coalition for Access on State Public Lands, Inc., funding their work out of their own pockets. The name would later be changed to Montana Coalition For Appropriate Management of State Lands, Inc. The Coalition led the charge for our state lands access.
Inspired by the State Lands Coalition, another coalition was formed, on April 14, 1980 – the Montana Coalition for Stream Access, Inc., which Jack was a member of. It was decided to first pursue Stream Access, which became law in 1985.
In 1985, the Public Land Access Association (PLAAI) was created to carry the banner, later embracing stream access, becoming Public Land/Water Access Association (PLWA). Jack was a PLWA Director from 2003 through 2007; and President of the association from 2003-2005.
In recognition of his hunting/angling conservation, Jack Atcheson Sr. won Outdoor Life Magazine’s Conservation Award, in 2000, for a “lifetime of achievement in the conservation of wildlife and wildlife habitat, and your tireless efforts on behalf of hunting and fishing access for American sportsmen.”
Continuing the fight for public lands/waters access, a warrior to the end, Jack wrote in 2016, “I’m pleased so many others picked up where we left off. Don’t give up. It’s amazing what a small group of sportsmen can achieve, if they try often.”
On the passing of Jack, PLWA Vice-President John Gibson lamented, “Jack was very instrumental in the fight for public access, especially in the background. I don’t think he got the credit he deserved, in the eyes of the public. We have lost too many of our founders recently. For access’ sake, I hope that we can replace some of these old warriors.”
There is a quote from Sir Isaac Newton, “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.”
Jack Atcheson Sr. is one of the those access giants!

Saturday, December 30, 2017


JackAtchesonSr-obituary-December 28, 2017


Butte, Montana: Sportsmen and women around the world lost a friend, advocate, ally, and invaluable resource with the passing of Jack Atcheson Sr. of Butte, Montana on December 27, 2017; at the age of 85.

Jack Atcheson Sr. was born May 9, 1932, in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Son of a farmer and coal miner, he moved with his family to Butte, Montana in the late 1930s and called Butte home for the rest of his life. Atcheson was still a teenager when he enlisted in the Army, spending a year in infantry combat in Korea. He suffered frostbite in the Korean winter and had lifelong back pain from a near-miss from an enemy artillery shell.

Atcheson left the Army as a Master Sergeant and returned to Butte, marrying his lifelong partner, Mary Claire. Together they founded Jack Atcheson & Sons in 1955, originally a taxidermy business that developed into an agency for organizing outdoor adventures around the world. It was Jack Atcheson Sr. who coined the term “hunting consultant” to describe his occupation, the term that is now commonly used—and preferred—by his competitors and colleagues.

A dedicated Western hunter himself, Atcheson was on the scene as North American big game rebuilt and hunting opportunities expanded in the Western United States, Canada, and Alaska. He was also a pioneer in hunting and conservation throughout the world, arranging some of the first organized expeditions to Mongolia in the early 1960s, and, as the winds of change swept traditional hunting grounds in East Africa, he was among the first to organize safaris to Angola, Congo, Botswana, then-Rhodesia, and then-Southwest Africa; and as Northern Rhodesia transitioned to Zambia he was an original partner in Zambia Safaris.

The first American clients Atcheson sent to Southwest Africa (now Namibia) were his lifelong friends Jack and Eleanor O’Connor; a few years later he hosted Jack O’Connor on his final hunting trip, for whitetail in Montana. During the same period, he arranged the first (of many) guided hunts, for elk in Montana, for then-future journalist Craig Boddington, who considered Atcheson a mentor as well as friend…as do so many of his thousands of clients over the years.

An extremely active and experienced international hunter himself, Atcheson was also a dedicated user of Montana’s public lands and outspoken advocate for public land opportunity. He was one of the leaders behind the passage of Montana’s famous Stream Access Law guaranteeing access to fishermen…and opening up over five million “blocked” acres of Montana public land to sportsmen and women. In 2000 he was awarded the prestigious Time/Mirror -Outdoor Life Magizine Conservation Award for his conservation efforts.  Other recipients include Aldo Leopold and Jimmy Carter.  Many of his adventures are collected in his hunting memoir, Hunting Adventures Worldwide (Stoneydale Press, 1995).

Jack Atcheson Sr. is survived by his wife, Mary Claire; and by his four children: Sons Jack Jr., Keith, and Brian; and daughter Kristie. Although remaining an active Montana sportsman until his final autumn, Atcheson retired gradually from the family business. Jack Atcheson & Sons remains in Butte, Montana, now operated by brothers Jack Jr. and Keith Atcheson…and remains active in hunting and conservation throughout the world. Their father’s motto, and their company slogan, is “Go hunting while you are physically able.” Jack Atcheson Sr. lived that motto until the end.

Friday, December 29, 2017

ALERT: We have lost another one....Jack Atcheson...Conservation Giant

Jack Atcheson Sr. has passed away.  Another of our Conservation Giants gone.  We will follow up with an article.
Condolences to the family from the Montana Sportsmen alliance.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

EMWH Carol Gibson Passing and more

Dec. 5, 2017

"Beware of the person who can't be bothered by details." 
~ William A. Feather, Publisher and Author

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Carol Gibson's Passing
It is with sadness that I share the news of Carol Gibson's passing on Dec. 3rd. While some may think of Carol as the quieter sidekick to the conservation mountain, John Gibson, Carol was her own force of nature, she will be missed. 

In addition to all Carol's Public Land/Water Access Association (PLWA) work, where I got to know her, she was an activist and a conservation hunter/angler here in Montana. Carol was an educator for many years, 
a Billings Representative for the Montana State House, sat on the Governor appointed Board of Outfitters, participated in numerous organizations like PLWA, Northern Plains Resource Council, League of Women Voters, MT Wildlife Federation, Billings Rod & Gun Club, and Montana Conservation Voters.

"Carol, who owned her own rifle and shotgun, spent many days hunting with John and friends. She also killed her own deer, field dressed them and along with John, butchered and put the meat in the freezer", shared Bernard Lea, a long time friend that was on many of those hunting trips, during their 60 years of friendship.

John shared, "At eleven A.M. on  Sunday Dec. 3, 
my wife, soul mate of 61 years and the mother of our 3 daughters, Jill, Shaun and Teal and Jill's 2 sons Justice and Frisco, left this world. Her heart became too weak to carry out it's life giving functions. Carol will be cremated. We will plan a celebration of her life at a later date but for now I will take a trip and spread a small part of her ashes on memorable spots that represent a part of our life together. One example would be Mud Creek where we lived in the mid sixties and the owner would let us swim in the warm pool while the winter snow fell."

In lieu of flowers, if you would like to send a memorial contribution in honor of Carol Gibson, you may do so to Public Land/Water Association, 
PO Box 80987, Billings, MT 59108 or online at PLWA.org. 

John stated that he is thinking of holding a Celebration of Life for Carol on her birthday, January 27th.

Public Land/Water Access Association's New Website
Public Land/Water Access Association just raised the public access bar with the debut of their new website at plwa.org.
With nearly 2 million acres of public lands in Montana not accessible to the public, more than double that of other Western states, Public Land/Water Access Association was created in 1985 to, “maintain, restore, and perpetuate public access to the boundaries of all Montana public land and waters.”

With the growing membership and public access awareness, PLWA needed a new web platform to provide resources and an interactive library to their members, journalists, law students, lawyers, historians and the public at large, about public land and stream access issues in Montana. Their social media friendly web platform is designed to work on PCs, tablets and smartphones.

“This is a totally new vehicle for us, with interactive resources for public lands and water access awareness and activism in Montana - a fact based vehicle that will grow with us and go with us into the future, as we continue pursuing our mission of maintaining, restoring, and perpetuating public access to the boundaries of all Montana public land and waters”, said Bernard Lea, PLWA's new President.

For decades the grassroots public access non-profit has been working with local hunting/angling organizations across the State, as well as with County Commissions, State and Federal public lands agencies to restore access. When necessary, PLWA is not shy about fighting back in County Commission meetings, or in District and Montana Supreme courtrooms. One case, involving the Seyler Lane Bridge easement, on the Ruby River, took about 13 years to finally be resolved. Now, as resolved by State law, Montana's Fish, Wildlife & Parks will complete the fencing public access project on both sides of the Seyler Lane Bridge, this next spring.

Vice President John Gibson declared, “Private interests are continually attacking access to our public lands and waters. Check out our new website, see our track record of access victories! Then join the fight to preserve and restore access to our Montana public lands and waters. Let's get that 2 million inaccessible acres restored back to the public who owns them!”

Crazy Mountain Note
I am still doing research on the Crazy Mountains, including Railroad Grant deeds. 
"Whereas, by the act of Congress approved July 2, 1864, entitled 'An Act granting Lands to aid in the Construction of a Railroad and Telegraph Line from Lake Superior to Puget's Sound, on the Pacific Coast, by the Northern Route,' and the Joint Resolution of May 31, 1870, there was granted to the Northern Pacific Railroad Company, its successors and assigns, for the purpose of aiding in the construction of said railroad and telegraph line, ... 'every alternate section of public land...' ". 

Many of these granted sections are in the Crazy Mountains. When the Northern Pacific sold these sections (mostly by 1940) to private landowners, if there were public access roads/trails at that time, the deeds include language, such as, "The lands above described shall be subject to an easement in the public for any public road heretofore laid out or established or now existing over and across any part of the premises," or "... the lands hereby conveyed being subject, however, to an easement in the public for any public roads heretofore laid out or established, and now existing over and across any part of the premises." That language does not occur on deed sections that did not have roads. This has been very interesting plotting out the Railroad grant sections to current maps. ;) I am loving the research resources here in Helena.

Troy Downing update
While back in the Bozeman area for some research, I went in for the Downing omnibus hearing scheduled for Nov. 15th. The omnibus had been rescheduled. I was told that Downing had this rescheduled for Wednesday, January 3, 2018 at 1:30 pm.

Meanwhile, an article came out in the Bozeman Chronicle, Montana U.S. Senate candidate claims primary home tax break in California. 
"U.S. Senate candidate Troy Downing of Big Sky is receiving a tax break on property he jointly owns with his wife, Heather, in California, an exemption that is for homeowners if the home is their primary residence... The San Diego County assessor’s office confirmed that he had been receiving the homeowner’s tax exemption since 2005. The most recent property tax bill for the fiscal year beginning July 1 and ending June 30, 2018, showed Downing received the exemption... San Diego County Division Chief for Assessment Services Jeff Olson said Downing acquired the Fallbrook property in 2005 and has had the exemption since then. The application for the tax exemption is a self-declaration that is signed under penalty of perjury, he said."

I found the PDF of the San Diego County Assessors Homeowners' Property Tax Exemption.
Also online was the current property tax bill, which is public records, showing the $7000 resident Homeowner' Exemption (screenshot below) for their Sleeping Indian Road, Fallbrook property.

Concerning the MT FWP citations, in a press release on Nov. 8, Downing's campaign stated, "
This is nothing more than an orchestrated attack on a combat Veteran..." Being a veteran has nothing to do with this, nor is it a defense. In the Chronicle's resident Homeowners Exemption story, Downing's campaign again tried to excuse the issue, "Downing’s Campaign Manager Kevin Gardner released a statement after being presented with the property tax bill and said it was California policy to automatically renew homeowner’s exemptions. He said if it was done, it was done without Troy’s knowledge."

This begs the question, if Downing can't keep up with his MT FWP residency information, nor notifying San Diego County's Treasurer Tax Collector as to a change in primary residence, as well as his campaign's deflecting/attacking excuses when confronted with legitimate residency questions, how in the hell would he be able to handle the very detail oriented, high pressure work load of representing Montana in Congress? 

I mean, Tester is not a superhero, and he was none too happy with receiving a 479 page tax bill, including illegible handwritten notes, shortly before having to vote on it. What would, thus far, detail deficient and deflecting Downing do in that situation?

It's all about the details and properly representing Montana! I agree with Senator Tester, Montanan's deserve so much better.

Thank you to contributors & subscribers for your support; without it, EMWH would not be able to pursue this work. 

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Thank you,
Kathryn QannaYahu
Helena, MT

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