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Unite To Fight!
 by Timothy Ravndal, President Montana Multiple Use Assoc 12/20/06
 
  Montana Multiple Use Association and Montanans For Multiple Use sent members to Salt Lake City this last month for the "Unite To Fight Conference"  The conference was sponsored by "Stewards of the Range," "American Land Foundation" and "Liberty Matters."
 
    19 different states from across America had representatives in attendance.  We all took some time to recognize a couple of true warriors in the resource battles of the West.  Wayne Hage, a true old time warrior passed away, and the estate of Mr. Hage continues to battle for the private property rights in this important case. We also recognized the tragic loss of Helen.  This family has endured allot, and the commitment shown at the conference by Margaret and her family is a true inspiration to us all.  We observed Margaret and Dan playing with their young children each day and I had to wonder where their strength comes from?  Like many of us, it is truly the children that we all fight for!
 
Also due recognition was given to Frank Duran.  Frank being long time advocate and past President of "Stewards," passed away shortly before the conference.  The conference was held in Salt lake as it was planned that the location would accommodate the attendance by Frank.  We will truly miss Frank, Helen and Wayne as they are true warriors!
 
As advertised, the conference was held to expand on an approach for our battles to be fought in the new year.  This approach, was laid out over two days and the wheels of progress have been set into motion. 
 
We must rely on case law more and more in our battles.  Property rights cases across America are working through the justice system. The outcome of some very important cases were discussed.  These cases will be instrumental in supplying our war chest with the needed precedence to protect the rights of Montanans for generations to come.   These cases are important to our foundation.
 
Each of us that fight these battles all have war stories and many of them have one thing  in common.  Over the years, it is known that our efforts at the national level have been in vain at the very best.  The great Wilderness debates resulted in Chaos!  The Endangered Species Act has resulted in the environmental war machine running out of control! 
 
At the conference, it was dubbed that the "environmental organizations" should be called "conservation organizations."  I for one do not agree with the politically correct labeling process.  However, that is another chapter!  Each speaker at the conference gave a specific example of these organizations taking advantage of our rights and the environmental laws.  Each time we were shown how the battle returns to the local level. 
 
The Hage v. US case brought everyone back to looking at water rights that are established at the local and state level. It has been said many times that it is important not to re-create the wheel.  Each battle that is fought many times is the same battle fought in a different geographic or social area.  The end goal is the same! 
 
Each of us have struggled with ways to get citizens actively involved, and to prevent the re-creation of the wheel.  At the conference, it was discussed on how to network our efforts across America.  Lines of communication need to continue to be opened.  Each of our individual efforts need to be documented and a database created.  We all need to work together to make this happen.
 
Our local government officials are often overlooked when fighting with the US Forest Service, BLM, USFWS, and other federal or state government agencies.  Across the west our local government is being left out of the process by design.  Many if not all projects proposed on federal land here in Montana do not reach our local government for participation until the design and purpose are set in stone!  Local government boards and committees, have a seat at the table, but many times are not invited because they are not required to be! 
 
However, there are a few counties that have taken the important step to secure this given right of participation.  Beaverhead County here in Montana has written and implemented a resource management plan.  In this plan, the United States government is notified that the local government has a right and is expected to be a participant in the process. 
 
At the conference, we looked at the planning process in depth.  Resource planning provides the necessary tools to control and insure that local planning compliments our overall resource management of the specific area.  State wildlife planning is being done.  Without local plans, we find our resources being managed without local input, leaving our resources and rights here in Montana being lost!  Everyone needs to look at Montana's wildlife management plan!
 
The Conference set the stage for everyone to go home and begin networking.  We all need to look at each and every branch of local government to begin the process of returning our resource management and our rights back to the people.  
 
Have you been to one of your local County Commission meetings, School Board Meetings, Conservation District meetings Fire Board Weed Board or any other branch of local government?  Everyone should schedule some time to find out where your local officials stand on your rights.  This is the first step!  Do you have friends at the local level?  If you do not have allies, you have identified your first job!  Elect allies and remove the enemy at the local level!
 
The war did not begin last night, nor will it be won or lost over night!  This process will take some time, and if you are committed to making it happen, you have help! 
 
Tim Ravndal, President
Montana Multiple Use Association
 
For more information, we urge you to visit
 
Stewards, has compiled documents that were part of the conference, and are available to those who wish!
 
 
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