Wednesday, February 01, 2023
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Thankful for support of Block Management Program

by Marilyn Marler
| January 4, 2023 12:00 AM

During this season of gratitude, let's think about the goodwill and shared goals for our hunting traditions. Let's thank private landowners that opened their land to public hunters and let's thank hunters who voluntarily donated over $218k to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks' Block Management Program. These donations, made by voluntarily returning unsuccessful drawing fees, show how much hunters appreciate the opportunity to hunt private land.

Block Management is an access program that reimburses private landowners for impacts of letting public hunters on their property. Through Block Management, landowners get a lot of control in determining who comes onto their land, and when and where they hunt. It also lets them decide if they want to interact with the hunters directly, have FWP manage the hunters, or let the hunters manage themselves. It is a flexible program that helps sustain our hunting traditions.

In Montana and across North America, our ability to manage and sustain deer, elk, antelope, and other game species relies on partnerships between private landowners, public hunters, and the agencies who hold our resources in trust. Wildlife is a public resource that uses both public and private land. Our access to private land is a privilege that can be taken away at any time, and it's up to us to show appreciation and good stewardship for those relationships.

In past legislative sessions, I have heard complaints about inconsiderate hunters. But $218,000 in donations shows that many recognize the pressures that private landowners endure, and most of us work to demonstrate our appreciation. What if we focus on the majority of good partners and work together to expand ethical behavior?

I am proud that I carried the bill that made it possible (and convenient) for hunters to donate their unsuccessful drawing fees to Block Management. Montana's Private Land/Public Wildlife working group also recognized the importance of Block Management and per their suggestion, Sen. Hinebaugh, R-Glasgow, is carrying a bipartisan bill that will increase annual payments to private landowners in the program.

This winter when my husband and I plan next year's hunts, we will write holiday cards to the ranchers who let us hunt on their land. I'm not sure where we’ll be applying for next season but I know I'll check the box to donate my unsuccessful application fees to Block Management. I'll keep putting my money where my mouth is, and by the looks of it, so will many other hunters.

Rep. Marilyn Marler, D-Missoula

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