More than 60 members of the media and other stakeholders concerned about pressing sportsmen conservation issues attended TRCP’s annual Western Media Summit in Great Falls, Montana. The 10th annual summit explored public lands issues and water topics, including federal water budgeting, the “waters of the U.S.” rulemaking, BLM backcountry conservation and the agency’s Planning 2.0 process, and ongoing efforts to conserve sage grouse and sagebrush ecosystems. The following are highlights from the event with short presentation recaps and photos.
Wednesday afternoon, September 10
Following a cold, misty morning of fishing on the Missouri River and hunting, Summit attendees gathered at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center for the final sessions and closing night dinner. The first session covered the Bureau of Land Management Conversation and Planning about public lands and featured Don Thomas, Traditional Bowhunter Magazine; Hal Herring, TRCP Field Representative; Ryan Callaghan, First Lite; and moderator Joel Webster, TRCP. The panel explored how sportsmen are working to conserve lands in and around the beautiful Missouri River Breaks. At the conclusion of the session, Ryan Callaghan revealed that more than 90 hunting- and fishing-dependent businesses signed a letter to the Bureau of Land Management urging the BLM to sustain public lands to hunt and fish, stand up for outdoor-related businesses, and support high-quality habitat.
The final session of the afternoon focused on sage grouse conservation and balancing multiple land uses. Panelists included Dr. Ed Arnett, TRCP; Tim Baker, Policy Advisor for Natural Resources, the Governor’s Office (MT); Ken Mayer, Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies; and Dan Bailey, Pheasants Forever.
Before dinner was served at the Center, Jim Martin, TRCP Board Vice Chair, gave a rousing speech where he hammered home the theme that the job of the TRCP is to amplify the voice of the sportsman. “The Media Summit is the beating heart of TRCP,” he said. He also announced that he was stepping down from the Board.
Attendees also had the opportunity to participate in a sunglass fitting by Summit sponsor Costa, led by Peter Vandergrift, the sunglass manufacturer’s flying fishing community leader.
Don Thomas, Co-Editor, Bowhunter Magazine: “The Breaks can’t be managed in bits and pieces. There needs to conservation on the Breaks.”
Hal Herring, Montana Field Representative, TRCP, on the Cemetery Road Backcountry: “This is sage grouse core territory. The wealth of this piece of ground is astounding. This is a big wildlife-rich area.”
Ryan Callaghan, Marketing Manager, First Lite: “Public land hunting is absolutely paramount to our business.”
Joel Webster, Director of the TRCP Center for Western Lands: “You think no one cares about a piece of land until you try to do something with it.”
Dr. Ed Arnett, Director of the TRCP Center for Responsible Energy Development: “Sage grouse are a unique and iconic species in the West. This is a species that loves big open species. This is why we love the West.”
Tim Baker, Policy Advisor for Natural Resources, Governor’s Office (MT): “Sixty-four percent of sage grouse habitat is in private land and that is a particular problem.”
Dan Bailey, Montana Regional Representative, Pheasants Forever, on sage grouse habitat: “These are romantic ecosystems…where the deer and the antelope play.”
Sunglass fitting and reception
The Deseret News’ Amy Joi O’Donoghue poses with a pair of Costa sunglasses prior to the Summit’s closing night dinner.