June 26, 2013 | Volume 100 / Number 26

My Hour With Dan Rather

Hello again from Brenden Farms. Last week I was in Helena for most of the week. I had a meeting with DNRC and DEQ about the revolving loan funds for water and waste water projects for communities in Montana. These also include irrigation projects.

As of today, they have some 144 projects in varying stages of development. Projects that get their paperwork together will be some of the first ones to get funded. If I can be of assistance in any way, please give me a call. I was glad to hear all loans are current.

The next meeting I attended was the Environmental Quality Council, (EQC). The EQC has oversight on Fish, Wildlife & Parks, (FWP), Dept. of Natural Resources, (DNRC) and Dept. of Environmental Quality, (DEQ). This is an interim committee of six senators and six House members plus four members appointed from the public sector. This committee is evenly split with Republicans and Democrats.

This is my third term on EQC, and we meet through 2014. At that meeting EQC members elected me as their chairman. It will be a very interesting time as we talk about wolves, bears and BISON, among other controversial issues, i.e. water, air, pollution, resource development and other important topics that affect Montana! Stay tuned!

VISITING WITH DAN RATHER

Last Friday coming home from Helena I stayed overnight in Malta. I was there to meet with Dan Rather, who is producing a documentary on the idea of free roaming buffalo and the translocation of Yellowstone buffalo to reservations and other areas in Montana. Friday night a public meeting was held where he interviewed folks from the area representing all walks of life.

The next morning I had my interview with Mr. Rather, which lasted close to an hour. Of course one of the questions concerned the Montana Supreme Court overturning the injunction to not allow the Fort Peck tribe to translocate Yellowstone buffalo to the Fort Belknap Reservation. This decision would also allow the state to translocate buffalo to other reservations.

I told Mr. Rather it would not make any difference to me where buffalo were to be translocated, but I still am opposed to sending these Yellowstone buffalo to any place except Missoula and Central Park in New York City, where he lives!

The High Court’s ruling clarified one great area of contention – that the buffalo sent to the Fort Peck tribe were not wildlife, but livestock. This means that former Gov. Schweitzer, FWP and the Fort Peck tribe broke state law when they did not obtain the necessary permits to move these buffalo livestock across the state of Montana. This court order is on Page 9, Section 15 of their decision. The Dept. Of Livestock will now be in charge of these buffalo and not FWP; we will see down the road where that goes!

Dan Rather was polite and interesting. His last question to me was if I thought the interview was a good one. I told him the proof of the pudding (interviews-documentary) would be if this upcoming special was “fair and balanced.” I can only hope so. Supposedly this will be seen late this year, and I will let you know when it will be shown on TV.

Montana, eastern Montana, Phillips County and Malta can be very proud of the way the residents conducted themselves. I know I am. I do not know of one interviewee from our area who wanted free roaming buffalo or the translocation of buffalo. I hope you all have a very great summer.

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