Film and Forum Kick-Start Campaign to Protect Wild Bison in Montana
The Montana Sierra Club and partner groups recently hosted a public screening of the critically acclaimed documentary, Facing the Storm: Story of the American Bison, at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman.
The screening was followed by a discussion about the future of wild bison in Montana and a call to action to protect the iconic animals and their habitat. Above, attendees mingle and sign petitions; below, the packed auditorium.
"We had an outstanding event tonight, with more than 200 'bison-enthusiastic' folks in attendance," says Bozeman-based Sierra Club organizer Zack Waterman, below. "There were folks standing in the back of the auditorium and sitting in the aisles."
Among the decision-makers on bison issues who attended were Mary Erickson, Gallatin National Forest Supervisor; Pat Flowers, Region 3 Supervisor of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks; and staff from the office of U.S. Senator Jon Tester.
"After the screening Pat Flowers pulled me aside and thanked us for our efforts," Waterman says. "I let Governor Schweitzer know about the energy and enthusiasm we had at the event, and he told me that with the public support we demonstrated tonight, he thinks he can begin a public process with the federal and Montana EPA to consider the first year-round habitat in Montana for migrating Yellowstone bison, including the three key areas the Sierra Club has identified."
Senator Tester's office commented on the progress the Sierra Club and its partners are forging and asked to be informed of future bison-related events. A thank-you email from Testor's office was waiting in Waterman's Inbox the morning after the screening.
"The habitat expansion that Pat Flowers mentioned would mark the first time since Yellowstone bison were saved from the brink of extinction that they're welcomed and embraced on key habitat areas adjacent to Yellowstone National Park," Waterman says. "When that process begins, we'll be readier than ever to mobilize the public to ensure that these changes happen."
Waterman says the April 26 screening and forum wouldn't have been possible if not for the "outstanding support and leadership from fellow Sierra Club organizer Bonnie Rice, a dedicated core group of volunteers, and a new coalition we've engaged, including the hunter/angler group Gallatin Wildlife Association, and the Blackfoot Confederacy.
Below, Waterman with special guest of honor, Mr. Jimmy St. Goddard, traditional hereditary chief of the Blackfoot Confederacy.
Waterman also gives kudos to former Montana Department of Livestock appointee Becky Weed, who penned an op-ed in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle entitled, 'Join the conversation to preserve North America's elephant'".
Sign the Sierra Club's petition telling Montana wildlife managers to move forward with the proposed bison habitat expansion.