Report from the Montana Great Outdoors America Listening Session

America’s Great Outdoors Listening Session, Bozeman, MT
June 2, 2010
Blog post by Carolyn Hopper

My impression of the “Listening ” session was that it went well.  The 200 or so who attended were in break out sessions after a short film which restated the statements in the hand outs of the purpose and mission of the Initiative.

In my room I heard the Sierra Club, conservation corps members, one young person working with the conservation corps, ranchers, farmers, 3 or 4 ATV enthusiasts talking about “balanced use”, hunters, a canoeist – who is the head of the local canoeing “club” or group, Montana Wilderness Society and Gallatin Valley Land Trust and one Native American asking for consideration of protecting the ancient pictographs.There were comments about lack of access to public land because a private landowner has blocked access to Forest Service Land and for help for ranchers so they can stay on their land and with their known way of life.  More than once I heard the request for money for the conservation and water act, and money to support National Parks.  Education was another stated need in order to get kids engaged in the outdoors.  Conrad Anker spoke about having climbing walls at playgrounds.  Many are concerned about kids being plugged into electronic stuff.  One or two expressed the idea that everyone needs to understand that public lands belong to all of us.

I was able to state the information for Utah.  I said:

My husband and I have just returned from hiking and camping in southeastern Utah.  As we drove across miles of desert filled with flowers and through country where layers of time are revealed in monumental rocks, it seemed that this is part of our lungs – our breathing space. When we cover it or otherwise disturb it, it is as though we will be restricting our breathing. We need these spaces set aside for the health of our world and for ourselves.

Thank you for coming to Bozeman, MT to listen to what we have to say about connecting people with our beautiful Nature.  I’d like to also thank the administration for canceling the Bush administration’s last second oil and gas sale lease and instituting reforms for onshore drilling.

and ended this part of my comments with:

Land that has been designated as having wilderness characteristics needs to be protected while Congress considers final designations.

We had comment cards we could fill out and I reiterated the points there as well.

One of my core beliefs is that somehow it must be shown how everything is connected and that the western states particularly must be encouraged to work together.

One criteria for decision making on where they will go is if there are comments about a particular area or maybe requests from one area for attending.

What I liked hearing is that there is a commitment to this Initiative whether there is an economic downturn or not.

High ideals expressed overall – Now let’s see how it plays out.  It’s a good start at the very least.