Learn why Prickly Pear Land Trust is a proponent of SB 24 -– a simple, practical step toward maintaining the lands we depend on for work and play.
Last February, Prickly Pear Land Trust joined the board of the Montana Trails Coalition. The coalition brings together a broad bloc of user-groups, non-profits, stewardship organizations, businesses, communities, and individuals in promoting and improving Montana’s outdoor recreational opportunities. As we see it, all Montanans have a stake in the long-term sustainability of our public lands. Recognizing the major funding shortfall in the maintenance budgets of our public lands, the Trails Coalition took 2018 to carefully design legislation to address the problem. As it stands, public land managers are struggling to keep up with maintenance backlogs, let alone address improvements required for increased use by Montana boaters, anglers, hunters, equestrians, hikers and more. It’s a big lift. These efforts resulted in the introduction of Senate Bill 24 by Senator Terry Gauthier on the first day of the legislative session.
Senate Bill 24 (SB 24) is a simple, practical step towards maintaining the lands we depend on for work and play. The legislation proposes to increase the optional light motor vehicle registration from $6 to $9. Currently, the $6 is used to support State Parks, fishing access sites and historic Virginia and Nevada Cities. The proposed $3 increase would continue to support these places, and have the added benefit of creating a “Made in Montana” state granting program, raising an estimated $800,000-$900,000 annually for trail and recreation infrastructure investment and maintenance for Montana communities.
We are committed to fair, common sense solutions and recognize maintaining and investing in our outdoor recreation infrastructure is necessary. We believe Montanans get that. The fee is optional, allowing Montanans to choose for themselves whether or not to support this investment. And in the past, 77% of our vehicle registrants opted to pay the small fee. For $9, everyone wins. Montana residents – your kids, grandparents, siblings – all have access to Montana’s abundant fishing access sites and fifty-five state parks, from Flathead Lake’s waters to fossils at Makoshika. Finally, the increased investment will allow public land managers and communities across the state to tackle needed maintenance projects and invest in capital improvements. We believe that investing in trails and outdoor recreation is an important part of our state legacy and a wise way to ensure yet another generation become outdoor stewards and advocates.
Through the hard work of Senator Gauthier and the members of the Montana Trails Coalition, SB 24 passed through the Senate on March 12 with a final reading tally of 33 yeas and 16 nays. But, the work is not done yet! In order for SB 24 to become law it must pass out of the House Fish Wildlife and Parks Committee and then be considered and passed by the entire Montana House of Representatives. This is where you come in. SB 24 will be heard by the House Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Committee on Thursday, March 28, at 3:00 PM. PPLT will be testifying in favor of SB 24 at that time and we encourage you to write to your House Representative as well as messaging the entire House Fish, Wildlife and Parks Committee asking for their support of this important bill.