Many of Montana’s businesses, and the jobs they bring, wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for wide open spaces, high-quality access to public lands, and the conservation efforts of previous generations to keep our lands mostly intact.
If our businesses have collectively learned anything from our combined decades of experience building outdoor businesses, it’s that you need to continually reinvest in the assets that set you apart. That’s why it’s crucial that state lawmakers continue supporting the Montana Outdoor Fund – a 21st-century investment to protect the Last Best Place.
How it works
The Montana Outdoor Fund sets aside a small percentage of revenue from recreational marijuana sales to protect and sustain our access to the great outdoors. Montana is the only state in the nation to establish this type of investment, which was approved by Montana voters via a 2020 ballot initiative and authorized last year by Montana lawmakers, including Gov. Greg Gianforte.
What it funds
If you enjoy Montana’s outdoors, the Montana Outdoor Fund supports and sustains something you care about. Have you ever visited one of Montana’s state parks? The Montana Outdoor Fund contributes over $2 million a year to help maintain picnic areas, repair roads, and support hardworking state parks managers and their staff.
Do you bike, hike, or use motorized vehicles on Montana’s trail system? Again, the Montana Outdoor Fund contributes over $2 million a year to fund local trail grants for motorized and non-motorized use. These dollars are easily accessible to trails groups across the state who work to maintain deteriorating trails or create new ones to support improved access for all trail users.
Our businesses share a concern with deteriorating access to our public lands. The Montana Outdoor Fund provides up to $10 million a year to support the Habitat Montana program. This is Montana’s best tool to facilitate voluntary agreements with landowners to unlock and protect our public access while also protecting working ranches from development.
Dependable and popular revenue stream
Montana’s burgeoning recreational marijuana industry is growing rapidly. Dispensaries across the state have already reported more than $43 million in adult-use sales – enough to bring in over $9 million in state tax revenue. Updated projections show annual revenue will blow past early estimates. This all adds up to a dependable and long-term funding commitment for our land, water, and wildlife.
In fact, a recent University of Montana poll showed that over 80% of Montanans support continuing to use recreational marijuana taxes for this purpose. Only 12% of the population would want lawmakers to redirect these funds toward some other purpose.
A critical test
The Montana Outdoor Fund will face its first real test with the upcoming release of Gov. Greg Gianfortes’s state operating budget. When released later this year, the 2025 Biennium Executive Budget will be a reflection of the Gianforte administration’s funding priorities and values. We sincerely hope they consider the interests of 80% of Montanans and commit to this valuable investment in our public access, state parks, wildlife, and public trails.
The importance of this funding commitment will only grow over time. Already the demands on our public lands, waters and recreational facilities have never been greater, and we must continue to build on the successful programs that protect our outdoor assets by investing in our incredible, world-class outdoors, which hold great value for Montanans and visitors alike.
The Montana Outdoor Fund is not just an investment in our land, water, and wildlife. It’s an investment in Montana’s brand, our way of life, our freedoms, and our economic well-being. And for many Montana businesses like ours, it’s an investment in the assets that drive our innovation and in the remarkable landscapes that contribute to our success.
We encourage you to visit www.gofundmt.org to learn more and to show your support.
Eric Siegfried is the founder of onXmaps, Inc. and Ryan Holm is director of marketing for Mystery Ranch. Both are members of Business for Montana Outdoors.
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