Earlier this month, I was in Washington D.C. to speak with Montana lawmakers about the importance of public lands, climate, and a healthy environment for families and future generations. I was invited to our nation’s capital by Mountain Mamas, a nonprofit organization to organize, inspire and activate mothers across the Rocky Mountains to advocate for our climate, clean air and water, and public lands. The Mountain Mamas, a name that inspires smiles and the whistled tunes of a particular John Denver song, was started in 2018 by Becky Edwards, who lives in Bozeman. She’s a mama, and with her infectious smile and soft but commanding voice, she inspires women to become engaged across their communities and with their lawmakers on how important it is for all parents and children to have clean, safe, and equal access to the outdoors.
There were eight of us from Montana and Colorado who traveled to D.C. where spring flowers are already blooming and cherry blossoms scented the air. We spent a whirlwind three days meeting with our representative delegations and the heads of two departments under the Department of Interior, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Both the BLM and USFWS are led by two Montana women: Tracy Stone-Manning of the former, and the latter, Martha Williams. Whether it was one mama from Colorado talking about crowded trailheads or my new friend from Highwood, Montana (nearest city is Great Falls) speaking about the lack of affordable housing in her “town” of 150, all of us gathered in D.C. had something important to say about the West and how quickly its growing and changing.
We went to Washington D.C. with one goal: to tell our elected officials and government leaders that as mothers we want a good, healthy, and active life for our children. We want our rivers to shimmer and flow, and not worry about water quality when we launch our rafts for the day. We want to be able to tour our country’s national parks and monuments, and teach our children about the cultural, natural, and geologic histories that shape us whether we live in Montana or a suburb on the east coast. We want to know that we can hunt for game like our grandparents did and that fishing will be a family pastime, not an activity only permitted to those with the greatest access to wealth.
On the final day before flying home, I shook hands with Sens. Steve Daines and Jon Tester, Reps. Matt Rosendale and Ryan Zinke and told them, proudly, that I was a Mountain Mama. It’s more than belonging to an organization, although connecting with others is at its heart, it’s about speaking up for what matters most: our kids, our outdoor legacy, our home.
Maggie Doherty is a writer and book reviewer who lives in Kalispell with her family.
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