Gillespie files for District 3 commissioner

Bruce “Butch” Gillespie

It was another busy and interesting week. For myself and my committee, we have lots going on. An update in Natural Resources is SB72 dealing with the water court and related issues.

In my Senate District 9 there are those who it seems to be serving very well as is. Some in the irrigated area felt the bill would not serve them as well as the present system.

I, with the help of many others, have come up with several amendments to broaden the bill out and allow for options with more local control using their local court system to solve water issues. I will be offering these amendments next week as the scheduled allows. I am so thankful for the number of very knowledgeable people in water law, that are willing to help work on good solutions. It is so important to make it work for all the many different water users.

I did present bills this last week that deal with agriculture and in particular soil health issues. SJ9 deals with the importance of soil health in Montana. It designates the first week in April as soil health week and the first Wednesday as soil health day. I was impressed with the amount of support this generated from all corners of Montana. Nothing helps more than some good timely rains, but with good soil and plant management the soils are better able to absorb and benefit from the moisture we do get.

My grizzly bear bill hearing was also very well attended, along with numerous zoom calls and public comments. It was worked out with the cooperation of Fish Wildlife and Parks. It is a blueprint of how management by FWP could work with the delisting of grizzly bears. This is the goal. Upon delisting by the US Fish and Wildlife Services, Montana would be subject to Montana FWP under the scrutiny of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services. This is like a one-year window and then four more years of proving that Montana is up to the challenge. I feel strongly that we are.

For 48 years, since the grizzlies were put on the Endangered Species List, Montana and Wyoming have done a great job raising the number of grizzlies way beyond the thresholds first imposed. It is high time the federal government and wildlife groups gave Montana a big pat on the back and their trust that even when the grizzly bear is delisted Montana will manage the numbers with continued protection from extinction of the grizzly bear population.

With that, thank you for your trust in me to represent you as senator of District 9.

State Sen. Bruce "Butch" Gillespie, a Republican, serves the Ninth District of the Montana Senate.

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