by Ed Shepard

I’m just getting back from the annual meeting in Billings. The annual meeting always means it is time for the Fall Monitor edition. It’s been a busy several weeks in PLF. In August, we held the Fourth Student Congress in Baker City, Oregon and the annual meeting was just two weeks later. And, we can’t forget that National Public Lands Day was September 22. A lot of activity keeping a lot of people busy and involved in Keeping Public Lands in Public Hands. Many of the major PLF events are reported on in this edition, as well as other work the PLF has been doing with our many partners.

The annual meeting is always a fun time to get together with old friends, coworkers, and former bosses. This year was no exception. There was a good turnout and those that attended had a good time discussing the importance of access to public lands and some of the difficulties in acquiring and managing for public access with the speakers. Brian Steed, the BLM Acting Director spent about 45 minutes visiting with us via phone. Brian had intended to be with us in person, but his travel plans changed and he attended a sage-grouse meeting with the Western Governors. He joined us while sitting in the Denver airport and we appreciate him taking the time to update us on BLM activities. We also had an outstanding field trip to Pompey’s Pillar National Monument, the Four Dances Special Recreation Management Area and the Yellowstone Wildlife Management Area. The Billings Field Office and several cooperators that partner with the BLM to make these special areas better led the trip. The meeting was capped off by the banquet where we got to recognize members that have contributed so much to the BLM and the PLF over the years. This year we recognized Pete Culp and Tom Allen for Lifetime Service Awards and Don Simpson for Volunteer of the Year. These meetings don’t happen without the work of a lot of people and I thank Dave Mari and Jim Binando and their committee for leading the planning effort, the Montana BLM for all of their help, and Beau for making this meeting successful.

On the Tuesday before the meeting started, the Board held a facilitated work session to develop a new strategic plan for the PLF. Rich Whitley, John Fend, and George Stone served on a committee over the past year to get the process started and they will be continuing to pull this together for the approval of the Board in the next few months. Thank you, Rich, George, and John; and thank you to our facilitator Jennifer Pratt Miles. Once the plan is approved it will help us set our course on what we want to take on over the next five years within our resources and volunteer capabilities.

There is a lot of news to squeeze into this edition of the Monitor, so I am going to keep this short and encourage you to keep up on the PLF’s advocacy work by checking in on publicland.org and our social media sites. I hope you all have a great fall and you get a chance to enjoy the public lands. Thanks for all you do, PLF could not be successful without the dedication of its members.

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