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Hunting coalition eyes state budget surplus for habitat restoration

Members of the Montana Citizens Elk Management Coalition Ed Beall, Mike Korn, Craig Jourdonnais and Chris Marshawn discuss the new proposed Montana Legacy Trust at the Capital Sports in Helena.
Ellis Juhlin
/
Yellowstone Public Radio
Members of the Montana Citizens Elk Management Coalition Ed Beall, Mike Korn, Craig Jourdonnais and Chris Marshawn discuss the new proposed Montana Legacy Trust at the Capital Sports in Helena.

A coalition of hunters focused on elk management in Montana wants to set aside a portion of the state’s billion-plus dollar budget surplus to fund habitat restoration and improvement projects across the state.

The Montana Citizens Elk Management Coalition is requesting $200 million of surplus money to set up the Montana Legacy Trust. Interest generated through the trust would be available to groups and landowners through grant-based applications.

The trust would be overseen by a 7-person citizen board appointed by Gov. Greg Gianforte. Marcus Strange with the Montana Wildlife Federation says the coalition is in talks with the governor’s office about the fund, but hasn’t received approval yet.

Gianforte’s recently released draft budget reduces marijuana tax revenue funding for several Fish, Wildlife and Parks programs, but Strange says he hopes public support will help move the coalition’s proposal forward.

“Every legislative session is always a push and pull between competing interests," Strange said. "So whether it's our Legacy Trust, or any other positive thing that the legislature hopes to do, it's all going to be an uphill battle.”

The coalition modeled the proposed trust off of Wyoming’s Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust started in 2006.