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Affiliate of the Week: Montana Wildlife Federation
In honor of our 80th Anniversary celebration throughout 2016, the National Wildlife Federation is recognizing each of our Affiliate Partners in a special “Affiliate of the Week” blog series that showcases the dedicated conservation efforts taking place across the country each day. This week we celebrate our affiliate, Montana Wildlife Federation, and their commitment to wildlife.
Who We Are
Inspired by their participation in the North American Wildlife Conference in 1936 (which launched the National Wildlife Federation), a delegation of Montanans founded the Montana Wildlife Federation (MWF) later that year. MWF’s initial membership consisted of a few dozen hunters, anglers, birdwatchers, farmers, and ranchers in Helena. Since then, it has grown into what is now a grassroots organization of thousands of people across Montana and around the nation, including a strong network of local rod and gun clubs.
More than 50 percent of Montanans hunt or fish, and MWF has always had a strong identity as an organization of hunters and anglers who care deeply about the natural world. Today, their membership also includes wildlife watchers, photographers, and a diverse array of others who support Montana’s rich fish and wildlife resources. MWF members — and all Montanans — are dedicated to protecting fish, wildlife, and our great outdoors because these resources are such an important part of our lives, our communities, and our traditions.
What We Do
For the last eight decades, MWF has been Montana’s leading voice for wildlife, wild lands, and public access to the outdoors. Thanks to their broad grassroots support and engaged volunteers, MWF has been a leader on some of Montana’s most important conservation victories, including the best stream access law in the West, a ban on confined wildlife farms, and the protection of some of Montana’s most important wilderness lands.
MWF has long been at the forefront of efforts to protect and restore Montana’s native wildlife, ranging from elk and other iconic big game species to native fish like the Arctic grayling and cutthroat trout. Today, they are working hard to preserve the sage-grouse and recover the grizzly bear. MWF also places a high priority on monitoring and influencing the work of the Montana Fish & Wildlife Commission and the Montana State Legislature. By giving a voice to hunters, anglers, and other conservationists, they help protect scientific wildlife management, the public trust, and the state’s unmatched outdoor heritage.
Making a National Impact
Montana is a bellwether on many important conservation issues: from restoring endangered species to protecting public lands, what happens in Montana often sets the tone for fights across the West and nationally.
In a state with 28 million acres of public land, MWF has always prioritized the protection of the wild backcountry and roadless areas that provide habitat for fish and wildlife. In 2014, they worked with a diverse coalition to help pass the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act, designating the first wilderness in Montana in three decades and protecting one of the West’s most important landscape.
The Federation has been fighting for decades alongside a local tribe, the Blackfeet Nation, to protect the Badger-Two Medicine area from illegal oil and gas drilling. They’re also working with the timber industry, motorized recreation interests, local communities, and other interests to protect wild lands in the Blackfoot-Clearwater region.
The Montana Wildlife Federation has been at the forefront in the fight against efforts to sell off national forests and other public lands or transfer them to state control. MWF members have joined with a broad group of other conservationists to defeat land transfer schemes in Montana and keep our public lands in public hands. The successes in Montana have helped rally public opinion across the West.
MWF has always derived their strength from a strong grassroots army of boots-on-the-ground advocates for public wildlife, natural lands, clean waters, and public access. They depend on dedicated members in Montana and around the nation to help protect the fish, wildlife, and outdoor traditions that make Montana the “Last, Best Place”. Join them today!