- Written by Culbertson Searchlight
Gov. Steve Bullock was joined by representatives from natural resource industries, ranchers, wind power advocates, sportsmen and conservationists, as he signed an executive order establishing the Sage Grouse Habitat Conservation Program, Tuesday, Sept. 9.
The program, which was developed from the ground up, and has broad support from a diverse group of interests, seeks to maintain state management of the sage grouse by protecting its habitat, while respecting the private property rights of Montanans.
“Montanans recognize that it is in the best interest of our state, its economy, and our quality of life, to maintain state management of the Greater Sage-grouse,” Bullock said of the executive order. “Through a public process, and the work of a diverse group of stakeholders, we’ve developed a dynamic, and science-based approach to ensure this bird remains under state management, and is not listed under the Endangered Species Act.”
Once established, the program will work to implement the requirements laid out in the executive order, including a review process for actions that might impact the bird or its habitat, including industry-specific measures. In addition, the order addresses, among other topics: adopts a comprehensive program for keeping sage grouse management in the states hands; recognizes the important role that Montana’s private landowners play in sage grouse conservation and the need for voluntary incentives to help those landowners to stay on the land and preserve vital sage grouse habitat; creates the Sage Grouse Habitat Conservation Program and the Montana Sage Grouse Oversight Team, attached to the Governor’s Office, to maintain state leadership, administer the program based on sound science, and continue to bring Montanans together to move sage grouse management forward; strikes the appropriate balance to preserve the sage grouse and its habitat and protect valid rights and existing land uses and activities; and ensures that Montana and Montanans will continue to manage this iconic species for the benefit of future generations – and continue to economically prosper from the industries that have existed in sage grouse country.
In addition, the executive order makes it clear that existing land uses and activities are not subject to the order, some uses and landowner activities are exempt from compliance with the strategy, including county road maintenance, and production and maintenance activities associated with existing oil, gas, communication tower and power line facilities.
“We appreciate the efforts and leadership from Governor Bullock to ensure that management of the sage grouse remains in state hands,” said Dave Galt, Executive Director of the Montana Petroleum Association. “By working together, we’ll ensure that we can protect not only this bird, but also economic opportunity and quality of life for all Montanans.”
“Continued state management of the sage grouse is important for all Montanans, especially for cattle ranchers,” Errol Rice, Executive Vice President of the Montana Stockgrowers Association said. “With an eye towards solutions, stakeholders with diverse viewpoints have come together to find science-based ways to ensure that we are protecting this bird, while respecting the needs of Montana ranching families.”
“We applaud the Governor’s willingness to step up to the plate to launch this important conservation program. Science shows that business-as-usual will have devastating effects on sage-grouse over the long-term. We all need to follow the emerging science and work closely together to conserve this iconic species. And what’s good for sage-grouse and sagebrush is good for a whole host of at-risk wildlife species—making this an important conservation program for the state of Montana and our wildlife,” said Janet Ellis, Program Director for Montana Audubon.
“We all have a role to play in ensuring the state retains management of the sage grouse for the benefit out our state’s economy and quality of life,” Glenn Marx, Executive Director of the Montana Association of Land Trusts said. “Through incentive-based conservation projects and actions, this plan recognizes that private land owners will play an important part in our success going forward.”
The program will be administratively attached the to the Governor’s Office. When fully implemented, the program will have up to six full-time staff. The Governor’s upcoming budget will include funding for the program, however until that budget is approved, the Governor intends to work with stakeholders to raise private funds help the program get off the ground.
In addition, the Bullock indicated that his upcoming executive budget will include a proposal for a Sage Grouse Stewardship and Conservation Fund, designed to, among other objectives, promote and fund voluntary incentive-based non-regulatory programs and practices on private land to conserve sage grouse habitat [if approved by the Legislature].
The executive order was based off of recommendations of the Greater Sage-grouse Habitat Conservation Advisory Council, which Bullock established in 2013. The Advisory Council gathered information, and brought stakeholders and experts together in a public process to recommend conservation measures to address the primary and secondary threats to the greater sage-grouse in Montana. These recommendations were presented to Bullock in January.
The executive order is available online at: http://governor.mt.gov/Portals/16/docs/2014EOs/EO_10_2014_SageGrouse.pdf.
- Written by Culbertson Searchlight
(Editor’s note: The Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office distributes an inmate roster each week with charges and communities of residence to The Herald-News and The Searchlight to illustrate that the jail has been dealing with overcrowding issues in the 17-bed facility.)
As of Monday Sept. 15, 10 inmates were incarcerated, Valley County Detention Center was holding two females and one male and the Fort Benton Detention Center was holding four males to alleviate overcrowding.
The RCSO reported that the following individuals were incarcerated at the jail as of Monday, Sept. 8: Adam Alonzo, 31, Williston, N.D./San Bernadino, Calif., criminal possession of dangerous drugs with intent to sell; Malinda Bibb, 31, Minot, N.D., arrested on a warrant; Michael Conant, 34, McCabe, partner/family member assault, felony criminal mischief, felony assault on a peace officer; Scott Crain, 27, Froid, criminal possession of dangerous drugs, criminal possession of drug paraphernalia, obstructing a peace officer and misdemeanor criminal mischief; Andrew Giles, 32, Wolf Point, criminal contempt warrant and driving without a valid driver’s license; Tina Houim, 50, Tioga, N.D., criminal possession of dangerous drugs, criminal possession of drug paraphernalia and driving under the influence; Jason Knight, 37, Spokane, Wash., criminal possession of drug paraphernalia; Timothy Oglesby, 31, Hot Springs, Ark., out-of- county warrant; Jeremy Sepanski, 30, Plentywood, forgery, theft and obstruction of a peace officer; and Hilrio Velasquez, 33, Riverside, Calif., possession of dangerous drugs and criminal possession of drug paraphernalia.
- Written by Culbertson Searchlight
A caption under a photo on the front page last week should have read Culbertson School board chairman Paul Finnicum explains about the school’s achievements to Lt. Gov. Angela McLean. Also pictured is school board member Ron Larsen.
- Written by John Plestina
Sheriff Freedom Crawford submitted a letter of resignation to the Roosevelt County Commission, effective Oct. 1, more than one month prior to the fall election.
Crawford, seeking a third term, is opposed by Deputy Jason Frederick, who garnered considerably more votes than Crawford in the June primary election. Crawford finished second among four candidates.
Commissioner Gary Macdonald said the commission is expected to accept Crawford’s resignation Tuesday, Sept. 16.
He also said he did not know if the three-member commission would appoint Frederick, undersheriff John Summers or anyone else to serve as interim sheriff until after the election.
Macdonald said he would consult with assistant county attorney Jordan Knudsen prior to the meeting.
The commissioners meet at 11 a.m., Tuesday, Sept. 16.
- Written by John Plestina
The first picture is Lt. Gov. Angela McLean chatting with preschooler Lauren Rumsey, 4, and Culbertson High School sophomore Sierra Machart in the lobby of Culbertson School. McLean meets another Angela in the second photo, Culbertson High School senior Angela Benson in a Jobs For Montana Graduates classroom at CHS. The third photo is Culbertson school superintendent Larry Crowder explaining about the school's achievements to McLean. (Photos by John Plestina)
Lt. Gov. Angela McLean touted the importance of the Jobs For Montana Graduates
program during a visit to the schools in Brockton and Culbertson, Friday, Sept. 5.
The Montana Legislature first funded Jobs For Montana Graduates in 1990, as a school-to-work class designed to help students in grades 9-12 prepare for their futures. The Montana program is an affiliate of Jobs for America’s Graduates, to encourage students to stay in school, graduate and successfully transition from school into employment, post-secondary education, other training or the military. JMG students develop career plans that could include college, technical education or military service to achieve their career goals.
Civic responsibility, including volunteering, is also taught.
JMG is in most area schools, including Wolf Point High School.
McLean’s visit to the two Roosevelt County schools was part of Gov. Steve Bullock’s back to school tour focusing on innovation in Montana public schools.
“My number one job is to make sure they graduate from high school,” Culbertson JMG coordinator Mary Machart said.
She said a lot of the students have jobs.
The Culbertson students will attend the JMG Fall Leadership Conference in Helena in October.
Brockton High School is also hoping to send some or all of the JMG students.
McLean invited the students from both schools to the capital.
JMG is in its second year at Brockton High School.
Brockton JMG teacher Roxanne Smith, a Brockton graduate, asked the JMG students what they want to do after high school. The responses ranged from construction, to aviation, to computer engineering and the military as a career.
“I was a classroom teacher up until about seven months ago,” McLean told the Brockton JMG class.
She resigned as an Anaconda High School teacher in February when Bullock appointed her to fill the lieutenant governor position that John Walsh vacated when he was appointed to fill the U.S. Senate seat that Max Baucus resigned from to become U.S. Ambassador to China.
“I taught social studies,” McLean said. “It’s really good to be back in a classroom.”
She said the efforts of the students is why she was there. The trip was her third to the Fort Peck Reservation since February.
“That’s one of the reasons we’re here today. We want to celebrate you. We want to celebrate your teachers,” McLean said.
“You matter. The work you do here matters. We want to make sure you all graduate,” she said.