By Ed Shepard

Let me start off by saying that I am honored that you have elected me to serve as the PLF president.  I appreciate your support and look forward to serving you for another term.  I also want to say a big thank you to Jesse Juen for serving as PLF president for the past year.  Jesse, you have done an outstanding job of moving PLF forward.  You put an outstanding team in place and under your leadership PLF is being recognized like never before.  THANK YOU!!!!

Since I stepped aside as president last year a lot has changed in the organization.  PLF is being recognized by many for the expertise we have in public land management and as a source of information on how public lands should be managed.  Over the past year I have observed the PLF become more active in testifying before Congress (See Ray Brady’s summary of testimony later in this Monitor), both through witnesses and written statements on important issues such as energy, wild horses, planning, wildland fire, and reorganization.  I have seen PLF leadership being quoted in the press, and, thanks to George Stone, becoming more active on social media.  Just today, before starting to write this article, I saw where Jesse’s blog on mechanized equipment in wilderness areas was picked up by the LA Times with a link back to the PLF.  This is great stuff!

At the same time all of these advances are being made, it is good to see that we are continuing with the strong programs we have had for some time, including the Student Congress, George Lea Founder’s Scholarship, and the Past and the Future Program.  And of course, we are also continuing with our strong advocacy for retaining public lands in public ownership and supporting the thousands of dedicated BLM employees.

It is important that the PLF continue with these programs and strategically look for other ways that we can advance our mission.  However, all of this take resources; time, effort, and money.  In my opinion, if we want the PLF to continue to gain recognition for the good work we are doing and to grow the programs, we must grow the organization’s membership and treasury.  We have committees working on strategic planning and on fund raising that will help us focus our activities in the future.   Now, we need to focus some energy on increasing our membership numbers and reaching out to the membership to get more membership involvement in the PLF’s work.  This is where I intend to focus my energy over the next year and I look forward to the annual meeting in September in Montana where we will be discussing how PLF strategically moves forward.

Again, thank you for your support in electing me to serve as your president, and thank you to Jesse, Don, Beau, Dwight, Geoff, and all of the Board for what you do.  I am looking forward to the next year!