Importance of Collaboration

We aren’t looking for legislation that creates winners and losers

By Mack and Connie Long

Fall is here in Montana. Sweltering August afternoons on the trail have been replaced with crisp autumn mornings, frost heavy on the changing foliage as we brew morning coffee at camp. As the faces of our clients change from day to day or week to week, the constant beauty of Montana and inevitable change of season is the ballast to our work lives here in the Bob Marshall Wilderness.

Another constant we’ve experienced in Montana is working together, shoulder to shoulder, with our neighbors and friends. Working collaboratively is vital in a state with mountains as tall and valleys as wide as what we hold here in Montana. Whether it’s repairing a stock barn or discussing land use management plans, our best work is done when we work side by side.

We’ve been outfitters for some time now, and have been lucky enough to live amongst a community of folks who all have a stake in the lands where we work and play. We’ve seen our neighbors and friends in the timber, ranching, outfitting, and conservation communities come together to do what is best for Montana in places like the North Fork of the Flathead and the Rocky Mountain Front. Just within the past year, Congress passed legislation in these two regions to safeguard wildlife habitat, recreational access, ranching operations and outfitting opportunities. These projects are the result of neighbors developing solutions that provide a “win” for everyone.

Right in our backyard we’ve seen the benefits and power of collaboration first hand. The Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Project is a perfect example of Montanans with diverse interests developing solutions that benefit everyone, from more logs on trucks to increased snowmobile access to designating additional Wilderness areas. The BCSP is a true collaboration where stakeholders have all been willing to give a little in order to gain a lot.

As our Montana delegation heads back to Washington, D.C. from summer recess, it is our hope that they take that Montana spirit of collaboration back with them and work together. In January of this year, over 40 businesses and organizations (Montana Wood Products Association, Pyramid Lumber, Montana Wilderness Association, Bob Marshall Wilderness Outfitters and many more) signed a letter addressed to Congressman Ryan Zinke, Sens. Steve Daines and Jon Tester encouraging them to give bipartisan support and collaborative solutions to issues such as forest management. We’ve been working together as Montanans for decades. We are asking our Montana delegation to, as well.

Zinke, Daines and Tester: We are counting on you to work together to stand up for Montana. We aren’t looking for legislation that creates winners and losers. Through collaboration, we can all be champions of the Treasure State.

Mack and Connie Long live in Charlo

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