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Director's Report February, 2001
- As with January, a considerable amount of my time in February was committed to various Legislative issues related to the current Montana Legislature. Here is a brief summary of bills being considered that may have an affect on Lewis & Clark Bicentennial planning and preparation:
- Bicentennial License Plate Bill (SB 393) - this bill, being carried by Senator Fred Thomas, was heard and passed out of the Senate Highways & Transportation Committee. The bill then was heard on the Senate floor, and passes on now to the House side for committee and floor debate.
- House Bill-16 (Heritage Tourism Program) - this bill, sponsored by Representative Roger Somerville, was heard by both the House Taxation and Joint Long Range Planning Committees during the month. As of the end of February the bill remained 'in' both committees. However, Rep. Somerville, with the Governor's Office support, intends to offer an amendment in the House Taxation Committee to raise the Community Grants portion of the bill from $2M to $10.5M, and is optimistic the bill will be passed out and heard on the House floor soon.
- HJ-18 (Joint Resolution to Congress & President Bush) - This Resolution, if passed, would state the importance of the upcoming Bicentennial from the perspective of the 57th Montana Legislature, and would urge Congress and President Bush to place the appropriate focus and funding for the National Bicentennial Observance. Representative Dave Lewis is carrying this bill.
- During the Commission meeting on February 13, the Commission voted to express its concern that additional interpretive signing be placed in the appropriate places within the Missouri Headwaters State Park. SB-286 is the legislation outlining what "improvements" can be made at this historical park.
- Early February demanded considerable preparation for the state Commission meeting scheduled to take place on February 13. The meeting notes for this latest meeting are currently being drafted, and will be posted on the Commission's web site within the next few days. Among many topics discussed, it was agreed that a Fundraising Action Plan would be presented to the Commission at its June 12 meeting in Missoula. During the meeting it was also announced that an EA was currently being prepared in advance of the transfer of ownership of the Travelers' Rest Camp Site to the Parks Division of the MT. Dept. of Fish, Wildlife & Parks. A mid-March timeline has been targeted for the transfer of this historic property out of private ownership.
- The Education Committee of the Commission met on June 12th, immediately prior to the Commission's February 13th meeting. These meeting notes will also be posted on the Commission's web site. Update reports on the "Lewis & Clark 101" education packet, the Education Directory, and the proposed Lewis & Clark Symposium were presented during this half-day meeting.
- On February 5th I traveled to Bozeman to make a presentation to the Tourism Advisory Council. In addition to offering an overall Bicentennial planning update, the TAC's investment in the 2001 Lewis & Clark Grants Program was acknowledged and thanks given.
- I was to Butte on February 7th to participate in a Public Safety planning meeting. Attending were representatives from the field offices of Representative Dennis Rehberg and Senator Conrad Burns, as well as sheriffs from Missoula and Beaverhead counties. It was decided to move forward to create a Montana Bicentennial Public Safety Plan. A Congressional appropriation request will be made via the Montana Congressional Delegation for necessary project planning funds. A grant application was also made in late December 2000 for some NPS Challenge Cost Share grant monies. An initial stakeholders meeting has been set for May 15-16 in Great Falls.
- The Commission, in partnership with the Montana Stockgrowers' Association, The MT. Dept. of Agriculture, Small Business Development Centers, Travel Montana and the MSU Extension Service, presented three "2001 Corps of Rural Discovery" workshops in February (2/19 in Wolf Point; 2/20 in Fort Benton; and 2/21 in Dillon). These workshops focused on the new Undaunted Stewardship program and how ranchers may want to become involved in Montana's Bicentennial.
- On February 22nd I was interviewed by CNN for a 'Montana Legislative Update' segment regarding pending Lewis & Clark legislation. Plans are also now being made for an interview on the 'Face the State' TV program possibly sometime in April.
- It was off to Bismarck, North Dakota on February 25 & 26 to present to their annual state travel conference. I spoke during a breakout session on the planning efforts undertaken in Montana. It was also very beneficial to more personally see and understand North Dakota's planning efforts.
- In late February, I wrote a letter to Dave Galt, the new Director of the Montana Department of Transportation, to stress the importance of two key projects; 1) a highway rest area in the Clark Canyon Dam area South of Dillon, and 2) continued involvement for the implementation of the new Lewis & Clark Interpretive Sign Strategy.
- Montana's various "planning reports" are now accessible on the National Council's web site. The process of each state sharing their planning projects will enhance better interstate communication and cooperation.
- The latest edition of the 'journal notes' newsletter was prepared in late February and will be mailed the first week of March.
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