By Amanda Eggert, Montana Free Press
What bills dealing with wildlife habitat funding, water law and grizzly bear management suggest about the state of natural resources debate in Montana.
Given that Montana’s top two industries are agriculture and recreation, it should come as no surprise that Montanans are quick to engage with policies seeking changes to the water and open space that are foundational to both.
How proposals to change water rights, stream access and conservation funding were received by policymakers the past four months illuminates entrenched sources of tension — between developer and agricultural interests, between federal and state wildlife managers, and even between Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte, a Republican, and members of his own party. Here are three takeaways from the 2023 legislative session informed by bills that passed, bills that failed and funding fights that remain unresolved.