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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Gianforte appoints the state's final three fish & wildlife commissioners

Elk during the Rut
Harry Collins/Getty Images/iStockphoto
Elk during the Rut

Gov. Greg Gianforte Tuesday announced three appointments to the board in charge of setting fish and wildlife regulations in Montana.

Gianforte has now filled all seven spots on the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission with his appointments. The board expanded in 2021 after a state law added two new spots.

The new members include Jeff Burrows, a Ravalli County Commissioner, and Susan Kirby Brooke.

Brooke owns a KOA campground near Glacier National Park and previously lobbied at the state Legislature for the Montana Stockgrowers Association. She also served on the state Board of Environmental Review and currently serves on the board of the Glacier Park Conservancy.

She says she’s looking forward to working with the public to resolve conflicts on the Madison River and in wolf and bison management.

“I’m excited,” Brooke says. “I’ve worked with the public before. I enjoy hearing what they have to say about the issues that are important to them.”

Brooke is replacing Patrick Byorth as commissioner for Region 3 in southwest Montana. Byorth was appointed by former Gov. Steve Bullock. He says he felt the recent commission sometimes struggled to keep politics out of its decisions, like one that made it easier to hunt wolves in 2021.

“I’m hoping that they’ve gotten their feet under them in terms of public process and respecting the public’s ownership of wildlife and their participation and management of the wildlife,” Byorth says.

Lesley Robinson with the Montana Stockgrowers Association was also reappointed to the commission representing Region 6 in northeast Montana. Jeff Burrows now represents Region 2 in west-central Montana.

Austin graduated from the University of Montana’s journalism program in May 2022. He came to MTPR as an evening newscast intern that summer, and jumped at the chance to join full-time as the station’s morning voice in Fall 2022.

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