Overriding the Veto on SB 442 is Crucial for Montana’s Outdoor Heritage

The passage of this bill will directly impact the quality of our hunting experiences

By Will Clark

Senate Bill 442 is a crucial step in providing funding to preserve the habitats that sustain our wildlife and our hunting traditions as Montanans. Through the allocation of marijuana excise tax revenues, this bill not only addresses vital community needs but also makes a significant commitment to habitat improvement, which is essential for maintaining the health and diversity of our game populations.

A key component of SB 442 is the creation of the Habitat Legacy Account, which dedicates 20% of annual marijuana tax revenue to habitat conservation. This translates to approximately $17.3 million per year which is primarily directed to Habitat Montana, with a portion allocated to the Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program (WHIP). 

The expanded funding for WHIP promises improvement and maintenance of habitats across tribal, private, and public lands. This includes projects that enhance water conservation, such as irrigation improvements and beaver dam analogs, which are vital for sustaining healthy aquatic ecosystems for fish and waterfowl. The program also focuses on riparian area and aquatic habitat maintenance, range management, drought resilience, noxious weed management, and wildlife conflict reduction. In addition, it adds funding to county budgets for the maintenance of roads that lead to these areas we recreate. These initiatives are crucial for maintaining the health and balance of our ecosystems and continuing to allow access for public land enthusiasts. The passage of this bill will directly impact the quality of our hunting experiences.

Many have worked hard to give the Legislature the chance to make this bill a law, and I encourage them to do so by returning their veto override ballot by 5 p.m. on April 18 with a vote to override. 

Will Clark