Sunday, December 30, 2018

Closing of 2018, Entering New Year 2019

"The surest way to keep a problem from being solved is to deny that problem exists. Telling people not to complain is a way of keeping social issues from being addressed. It trivializes the grievances of the vulnerable, making the burdened feel like burdens. Telling people not to complain is an act of power, a way of asserting that one's position is more important than another one's pain. People who say 'stop complaining' always have the right to stop listening. But those who complain have often been denied the right to speak."
~ Sarah Kendzior, The View From Flyover Country

Now that most of the Crazy Mountains legal research is with our attorney, I can get back to working on the MT FWP Game Warden Citation research, helping to inform the public on these matters. If you are interested in being a Contributor to this work, it would sure be appreciated.

Please, Take a few moments to send an important public comment to protect accountability & transparency at the DOI.
Deadline 1/28/2019 (don't procrastinate)

"Trump administration officials took steps on Friday to crack down on transparency at one of the largest US federal agencies, proposing a slew of changes that could make it harder for the public and media to obtain records of agency dealings.
The proposal is part of an effort to grapple with what the interior department describes as an “unprecedented surge” in requests under the Freedom of Information Act (Foia), the United States’ pre-eminent open government law, since 2016 when Donald Trump took office.

Among other wide-ranging revisions to its Foia regulations, the interior department’s proposal would enable the agency to reject Foia requests that it considers “unreasonably burdensome” or too large, and it would allow the agency to impose limits on the amount of records it processes for individual requesters each month."

Please use Docket No. DOI-2018-0017 in your message.
U.S. mail, courier, or hand delivery: Executive Secretariat—FOIA regulations, Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20240.

New Year & Upcoming Congressional & Legislative Sessions

You could call it humorous, but Ben Lamb is making a point. He began making twitter posts on the number of bills that were showing up on the Introduced & Unintroduced Bills look up page. It is currently at 3011.

Below is just a small sampling of the countdown to what Ben is labeling the "Airing of Grievances."

"The airing of grievances will now commence. It shall only stop upon Sine Die. I'm so proud of you all. Well done."
"Only 12 LC's to go until we hit 3000!!! Come on you small gov't conservatives, you can do it!!!"

"2972 LC's requested! is on fire with the prospect of hitting 3,000 by Christmas!"

Just for some frame of reference for readers, I looked up previous years. Total number of Bills Introduced & Unintroduced:
2019 - 2951 bills
2017 - 2611 bills
2015 - 2471 bills
2013 - 2218 bills
2011 - 2246 bills
2009 - 2369 bills

On the national Congressional level...
Since the sponsor for HJR 48, Rep. Rick Nolan, is retiring, Rep. Pramila Jayapal will be the new lead sponsor for the anti Dark Money bill, calling for a Constitutional Amendment, basically - corporations are not human beings and money is not free speech.

Concerning Public Lands & Natural Resources, with the Dem. House majority, we will hopefully, see some checks & balances. Rep. Raul Grijalva will now be the Chair of House Natural Resources Committee.
Despite Zinke's forced resignation, Grijalva plans to pursue investigations involving Zinke and his handling of DOI.

"The secretary’s final public appearance was Thursday night at

his office Christmas party, which he told White House staffers he wanted to have before his dismissal. He invited lobbyists and conservative activists to his executive suite, where he posed for photos in front of a large stuffed polar bear wearing a Santa cap, according to an attendee. Mounted animals on the walls were fitted with ornaments."
“Ryan Zinke was one of the most toxic members of the cabinet in the way he treated our environment, our precious public lands, and the way he treated the government like it was his personal honey pot,” Schumer said in a tweet. “The swamp cabinet will be a little less foul without him.”

2019 Rally For Public Lands

Rally for Public Lands
Friday, January 11th
Noon – 1 p.m.
State Capitol Rotunda
1301 E. 6th Avenue, Helena

There are a number of organizations coordinating with this rally, such as Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, Montana Wilderness Association, Montana Wildlife Federation, Montana Audubon, Forward Montana, Montana Conservation Voters, The Wilderness Society, Winter Wildlands Alliance, Outdoor Alliance and Business For Montana's Outdoors.

Job Satisfaction Drops Among Forest Service and other Agency Employees in the Best Places To Work Agency 2018 Ranking

As a Public Landowner concerned with our Public Lands, Environment, Conservation, Wildlife, Water & Air protections, Climate Change, etc, I am greatly concerned with this administrations kakistocracy that is adversely affecting not only the public resource but also the employees that manage on our behalf, the continuity of research and the institutional knowledge these employees carry with them.

EPA Regions 🔻: 1: -4.9, 2: -4.1, 3: -13.1, 4: -8.2, 5: -4.9, 6: -10.4, 7: -6.3, 8: 7.2, 9: -7.2, 10: -2.2
EPA R&D: -4.7
EPA Resource Mgmt: -5.1
EPA OIG: -22.0
EPA Environmental Information: -13.1
EPA Administration: -7.8

 🔻 DOI: -1.1
USDA: -6.9
USGS: -1.2
USFWS: -4.4
FS: -7.2
BLM: -1.1
NRCS: -5.0
Off Surface Mining Reclamation & Enforcement: -9.2
Off of Water: -0.2
Bureau Safety & Environmental Enforcement: -0.3

Nationwide, oil pipeline spills are a near-daily reality

Click to be a Contributor or Subscriber to
Enhancing Montana's Wildlife & Habitat

Thank you,
Kathryn QannaYahu
Helena, MT

Thursday, November 29, 2018

I was recently robbed, but then again, aren't we all being robbed?

"So, I think in terms of our democracy, the public lands are one of the greatest examples
of what is egalitarian about this country. They are a shared value and a shared
responsibility. For our democracy that is key. And [the public lands] are even more
important now when you have [President Donald] Trump and the powers that be,
both in the House of Representatives and the Senate, trying to redefine what our
democracy is, trying to make the public lands the property of some and not of others.
There is a clash. It is a clash around the public lands as a symbol of our democracy
and our representative form of government."

~ Rep. Raul Grijalva

Public Trust Thefts

Recently, someone trespassed on private property where I rent. The trespassers then robbed me of valuables and compounded the theft with forgery, causing me to be locked out of my account, no access to my own funds. I have had friends and family members robbed before, and remember them relating how violated and vulnerable it made them feel. It truly does make you feel vulnerable and angry that someone else, feeling entitled, decided they had a right to steal what is yours.
Immediately, I contacted officials to report them robbery with details, serial numbers, etc. You look around and try to figure out what is missing? And that is the part that still nags at me … what did I miss, what else could be stolen that I didn't notice at first glance?
And then it hit me, yes, I was robbed, but then again, aren't we all being robbed?
We collectively own our public lands and resources, yet we are being robbed on so many fronts (this theft goes well beyond natural resources). We have people and organizations watchdogging, trying to make an accounting and call attention to what is being stolen, often while the thieves and robbers are still in the act of plundering. What is worse, in this natural resources case, when we contact authorities to report the thefts, some of those authorities are part of the theft ring against the American public (examples below). 

Quick note, if you would like to be a contributor to EMWH's work, please click the Contribute or Subscribe link at the bottom - so much to do, very little funding to do it. Thank you.

On a good note, in an effort to combat Dark Money, our Helena Move To Amend chapter worked to continue the process begun by Will Garvin, of passing a Helena City Resolution 20498, A Resolution Supporting and Calling For A United States Constitutional Amendment To Explicity State That Constitutional Rights Are Rights of Natural Persons Only and Money Is Not Free Speech. I added some whereases and worked with the city attorney on some of the language. Thank you to the Helena City Commission for unanimously passing this Resolution.

Public Trust Theft Examples:

Currently, we have an 11th-hour pitch for the lame duck Congress to authorize full and permanent funding for the expired Land and Water Conservation Fund.
MT Groups Push for Land & Water Conservation Fund in Lame-Duck Congress
" 'It's discouraging, actually, to watch it languish and die, and expire in Congress when really, there was no need for that to happen. There's no need for the LWCF to be used as a political football.'

Still, Potts said he is optimistic the program will gain approval. Along with supporting the state's booming recreation industry, which generates more than $7 billion in consumer spending a year, Potts said the LWCF has been integral to Montanans' way of life. 'Every county has benefited to one degree or another from LWCF dollars. We absolutely would not be able to enjoy the breadth and depth of amenities and quality of life that we enjoy as Montanans were it not for LWCF.' "

Military Vets Plead With Congress to Save Public Lands
"A New Mexico veteran joined other former service members in signing on to a letter asking Congress to pass legislation that would conserve land and water in a number of states. Brett Myrick of Gila traveled to Washington, D. C., with the veterans' group to support nine bills that would permanently protect more than 1 million acres of wilderness, 395 miles of wild and scenic river, and 713,000 acres with other conservation designations. Myrick is a former U.S. Navy SEAL and said protected public lands and rivers offer spaces where veterans can recover from the stresses of military service.

'It's a minimal amount of land that we have for veterans, or people of all walks of life, and from other countries to be able to go out and enjoy nature and beauty and solitude and pristine country,' Myrick said. Mental health experts say 10-15 percent of all veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress." - Trump Repeatedly Errs on California Wildfires with a Science Check
"Over the past two weekends, as two major wildfires devastated communities in Northern and Southern California, President Donald Trump has inaccurately blamed the state’s forest management practices for the blazes. He has also wrongly said that raking — a method he attributed to Finland — could have solved the problem... While forest management can be an important element in certain wildfires, Trump’s claim that forest management is solely or even largely responsible for these fires is false."

Energy Speculators Jump on Chance to Lease Public Land at Bargain Rates (Montana)
"The Trump administration’s policy of encouraging more oil and gas drilling combined with a loophole in federal rules has been a boon for investors with a taste for gambling — and has drawn criticism that it is a bad deal for taxpayers."

Rep. Raúl Grijalva intends to force a reckoning with climate change, A Democratic spitfire takes the helm of the House Committee on Natural Resources.
"Less than a week before the midterm elections, U.S. House Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D- Arizona, released a report detailing how the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources, on which he has served for 14 years, stacked its hearings with industry interests. 'Under Republican leadership,' he wrote, 'hearings have disproportionally included witnesses who pad their profits by degrading public lands.'

Now that Democrats have won a majority in the House, Grijalva will have his chance, as the committee’s new chairman, to change the direction of the governing body that oversees federal lands and energy and water resources. Grijalva’s committee will also oversee and investigate the Interior Department, employing the system of checks and balances that Grijalva thinks his predecessors neglected."

As a warming world wreaks havoc, Trump wages war on climate science. The US administration’s politicization of science has led to big budget cuts for data and analysis. Others must fill the gap.
"The recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warning of mass wildfires, superstorms, food shortages and dying coral reefs by 2040 was a cry for immediate action.
Climate change will make the next global crash the worst.

But as climate change is happening in real time, the practice of climate science –collecting data, observing and analyzing the Earth’s systems and communicating those findings to decision-makers and the public – has never been at greater risk. That’s why I am in Brussels this week speaking to European Union parliamentarians on the unprecedented threats facing the global understanding of climate change as a result of the Trump administration’s hostility to climate science, and discussing what European countries can and should do in response."

White House admits Trump climate policies will cost Americans $500 billion a year
Trump team approves -- but tries to bury -- report finding inaction on climate will devastate the country.

"The 1,000-page climate report released by the White House Friday quantifies the staggering cost of President Trump’s climate science denial...The White House oversaw the report’s review and clearance process — and tried to bury the findings by releasing it at 2 p.m. on the Friday after Thanksgiving. But the reality of climate change cannot be buried. Indeed the report concludes that 'the evidence of human-caused climate change is overwhelming and continues to strengthen, that the impacts of climate change are intensifying across the country, and that climate-related threats to Americans’ physical, social, and economic well-being are rising.' "

Suit To Penetrate Political Screening of Interior Grants, Inspector General Decries “Weak or Non-Existent Controls” on Grants and Aid
"The Interior Department screens grants for political alignment with the priorities of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke but has not disclosed how that process works and what grants have been discontinued or blocked, according to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). At the same time, Interior’s Office of Inspector General finds the agency does not screen grants for conflicts of interest or ethics compliance."

Zinke’s #2 has so many potential conflicts of interest he has to carry a list of them all
"Bernhardt’s relentless work ethic helps explain how he’s managed to advance Trump’s pro-industry agenda over the nation’s public lands. Having worked for years as a lobbyist representing many of the very businesses he now regulates, he walked into the No. 2 job at Interior with so many potential conflicts of interest he has to carry a small card listing them all.

'This is the deep state,' said Jim Lyons, who served as deputy assistant secretary for land and minerals management under Barack Obama. 'He is the guy behind the curtain who’s manipulating everything, which he can do with his wealth of knowledge and experience.' In recent weeks his boss, Ryan Zinke, has come under increased scrutiny for a Montana land deal. If Trump reshuffles his Cabinet and Zinke steps down, it will likely be Bernhardt who steps up."

Click to be a Contributor or Subscriber to
Enhancing Montana's Wildlife & Habitat

Thank you,
Kathryn QannaYahu
Helena, MT

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Could saving our nation’s natural heritage be the issue that unites a divided country?

"With the nascent success of conservation as a national issue that can turn out voters
and swing campaigns, I hope to see more politicians from both parties
jumping on the public lands bandwagon in 2020 and beyond." 
Democracy Turnout

Statewide and nationwide voting turnout was at record levels. Montana had Registered Voters 711,322, with total turnout at 497,393 or 69.93%. Nationwide saw an increase as well with votes still be counted or recounted in some states.

Currently in the House, there are 226 Democratic seats, 34 being flipped to 197 Republican seats, with 3 being flipped. The Democratic Party currently controls the House, which will affect House Chairs and Committees. The Republicans still control the Senate with 51 seats, 3 being flipped to Democratic seats at 46, one being flipped. On the Governor front, there are still a majority of Republican Governors, 26 with 1 being flipped. But Democratic Governors increased to 23 with 7 being flipped.

Mike Dennison did the work as to what the breakdown means for our Montana legislature: "30-20 Rs in Senate (Dems pick up 2) and 58-42 Rs in House (Dems pick up net 1) -- although provisional ballots could still alter at least one race."

Statewide turnout highest in 24 years for midterm election, Lewis and Clark turnout 74 percent

Public Lands Making the Difference

In New Mexico, Public Lands Turned an Election Blue

This is an interesting article because it highlights Attorney Xochitl Torres Small's path to winning/flipping a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, in a rural district. One of her prominent talking points? Protecting the region's national monument. Torres Small, a hunter, focused on the economic drivers that Public Lands affords, encouraging working together as a community.

She wrote a letter to DOI Sec. Zinke stating, "That's why I support the monument in its entirety. The community invested over a decade to carefully study, document, and negotiate protection of these Wild West lands. The result is a stunning national monument that receives overwhelming local support and attracts national and international acclaim, and the accompanying tourism dollars that come with that. Please, don't interfere with our hard-earned source of local pride. Let us keep our Organ Mountains--Desert Peaks National Monument."
The article continued, "Her Republican opponent, Yvette Herrell, served as a state chairperson for the Koch-backed American Legislative Exchange Council, a nonprofit that has aggressively sought to privatize public lands. 
Torres Small is just one success story in a broader wave of candidates who have embraced protecting our public lands as part of their campaign platforms. With the nascent success of conservation as a national issue that can turn out voters and swing campaigns, I hope to see more politicians from both parties jumping on the public lands bandwagon in 2020 and beyond."

Fossil fuel money crushed clean energy ballot initiatives across the country
Our I-186 went the same way
"For the most part, they did not go well for fans of clean energy. The ones that utilities and oil and gas companies mobilized and spent big against lost. After being boxed out of climate and energy policy at the federal level, the left has turned to states, but at least last night, the states did not deliver much good news."

Zinke is the Cabinet official most vulnerable to Democratic probe, White House fears

"House Democrats such as Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), slated to take the gavel of the House Natural Resources Committee next year, are already gearing up to grill Zinke on his personal conduct and management decisions.

On Wednesday, Grijalva said he and his colleagues want the interior secretary to provide answers on several fronts. Last month, the Interior Department’s acting inspector general, Mary Kendall, referred that inquiry, which is examining whether Zinke used his office for personal gain, to the Justice Department.

'This is our check and balance, our constitutional obligation and our jurisdiction,' Grijalva said. 'Us exercising our oversight and accountability responsibilities is not asking for a war with the administration.' "

On the local Helena Front...

Gayle Joslin, with the Helena Hunters & Anglers sent out a request for contributions to protect big game security on Montana National Forest lands.  Every dollar helps!

HHAA has applied for a Cinnabar challenge grant to engage with the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest (HLCNF) on its pending Forest Plan, to assure that wildlife is not forgotten in this process.  Currently, the HLCNF has dropped ALL STANDARDS for wildlife from the Draft Forest Plan.

When we meet our Cinnabar challenge grant match, we will be able to engage necessary experts to assure that wildlife is represented at least as well as timber and recreation in the new Forest Plan, for the next 30 years.

Previously there were nineteen STANDARDS for big game that protected habitat.  In the pending Forest Plan, there are NONE. A Standard is a mandatory requirement.  It is not discretionary, as are Guidelines.

Please help us meet our match and ensure that wildlife habitat will be secure into the future. 
Mail checks to:
Helena Hunters & Anglers Association
2025 Oro Fino Gulch
Helena, MT 59601
449-2795 for more information

Helena chapter fighting back against dark money effort

According to the City Attorney Thomas Jodoin, the Helena chapter of Move To Amend is on the City Commission meeting schedule, Nov. 19th, for our proposal that Helena adopt a Resolution - an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, by 2/3 vote in both the House and the Senate, stating that money is not Free Speech and corporations are not human beings (Original draft text, there have been some minor changes). Please express your support by attending the meeting to submit a public comment or email a public comment to the Commission. Agenda with Final Resolution text is not posted yet.(check link later for Nov. 19th mtg update)

The Helena City Commission meeting:
November 19, 2018, 6pm-9pm
316 North Park, Avenue, Room 445

Montana Wild Bison Restoration Coalition

The Montana Wild Bison Restoration Coalition just held their 2nd public presentation, this one in Bozeman. Jim Bailey, retired Colorado State University professor of wildlife biology and Montana resident has been leading the charge with the new coalition. Check out their new website for more information, including a growing list of Supporters.

The Coalition's mission: "to enhance public awareness of conservation opportunities for wild, public bison in Montana; and to establish a bison herd on public land and private land where bison are accepted, within and near the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge."

You can contact Jim if you would like to set up a presentation in your area.

Here is the link for their contribution page.

Click to be a Contributor or Subscriber to
Enhancing Montana's Wildlife & Habitat

Thank you,
Kathryn QannaYahu
Helena, MT