My name is Ashton Lamb and I am a student at Colorado State University (CSU) studying Parks and Protected Area Management. Along with ten other students from around the country our group has been studying restoration ecology for the last two weeks in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. A few days ago our group had the pleasure of speaking with Arnie Dood from Montana’s Fish, Wildlife, and Parks service about the issue of Bison in this beautiful state. After some previous studying of the issue with WRFI and my background from CSU learning about conservation I just wanted to say to all Montanans that I believe you have a bright future ahead of you.
Arnie has been working for MFWP service for about 38 years now, and after hearing him talk about the future of Montana I believe that he and the MFWP service have your best interests in mind. Today, collaborative conservation has taken control of the headlines as a new way to efficiently work with others to achieve a common goal. As Arnie explained his efforts to get various groups and individuals to sit down and understand each others perspectives I couldn’t resist but smile.
As many of you know the traditional way in which many government agencies proceed with the scoping process is by sticking a microphone at the front of the room so a panel of government officials can “listen” to you. This process usually ends up giving us a minimal amount of time to speak. Arnie and MFWP service are trying to grasp new methods of collaborative conservation by expanding the process. Now, various participants are asked to sit down at a table (outside of their own group and comfort zone) to talk about the issues relating to Bison. I understand that this is a very complicated and passionate topic across the state and even the nation, but when people are getting together and actually trying to find a solution rather than arguing it gives you hope. As an outsider I have to say I want the best for Montana, and I believe Arnie and the MFWP service do too. At one point Arnie says, “A good idea can come from anywhere…[we want to] work together so local needs are met.” No matter your stance on the issue you can have faith that at least someone is keeping you in mind and wants the best for Montana. It might be a long road ahead, but I see a bright future.