HELENA – The Republican-led state Senate on Tuesday refused to give a new four-year term to the Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission’s vice chairman, citing poor department management.
Gov. Brian Schweitzer had reappointed Dan Vermillion, a fishing guide from Livingston, when Vermillion’s term expired in December.
The commission is comprised of representatives from five geographical districts who are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate. But Republicans leading the Senate rejected Vermillion in a 26-24 vote. Those opposing the appointment did not speak against Vermillion’s qualifications but instead vented their anger at the department.
They said the state agency has neglected its duties to balance the interests of sportsmen and wildlife, and will oppose any reconfirmation bid because of how poorly they believe the department has been run.
Schweitzer will have to appoint a new commissioner to take Vermillion’s seat.
Vermillion, who runs the Sweetwater Fly Shop in Livingston, guided President Barack Obama on a fly fishing trip on the East Gallatin River in 2009. Obama was making good on a campaign promise to learn fly fishing when he visited the state again, and Vermillion said he hooked a half-dozen fish.
Also Tuesday, the Senate confirmed Fort Peck tribal chairman A.T. “Rusty” Stafne to replace FWP Commissioner Willie Doll, whose term expired in December.
Schweitzer did not explain why he decided not to reappoint Doll.
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