Tester announces members of Sportsmen’s Caucus advisory group
19 Montanans on panel ‘come from all walks of life’
(U.S. SENATE) - Senator Jon Tester today announced members of the Montana Sportsmen’s Advisory Panel, a group of sportsmen and women from across Montana who will provide input to Tester in his new role as the Chairman of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus.
Tester’s 19-member panel of Montanans will share their experiences as men and women actively engaged in hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities. Tester plans to use the group’s input to craft legislation aimed at protecting Montana’s and America’s outdoor heritage.
Tester plans to focus the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus on working to strengthen gun rights, remove wolves from the endangered species list, improve access to public land, and fight for clean water and healthy wildlife.
“Montanans grow up surrounded by the many outdoor recreational opportunities our state has to offer and we learn from an early age that it is also our job to make sure we strengthen that heritage for our kids and grandkids,” Tester said. “The Montanans on this panel come from all walks of life, and all of them are experts in working together to make sure the next generation has the opportunities to hunt, fish, camp and hike. I look forward to their advice on how we can move forward legislation to protect Montana’s rich outdoor heritage.”
“The NRA looks forward to working with Senator Tester in his leadership role with the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus on these issues that are of great importance to the NRA and tens of millions of Americans," said Christopher Cox, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action. "The NRA is a leader in the effort to preserve America's rich hunting heritage and improve hunting opportunities at the federal, state and local levels. For these efforts to continue to be successful, every hunter and hunting organization needs to speak with a strong and unified voice”
The following Montana hunters, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts will be part of Tester’s Montana Sportsmen’s Advisory Panel:
- John Borgreen is a life-long hunter and angler who has been an active participant in a variety of sportsmen’s organizations including Russell Country Sportsmen’s Association where he served as President and Secretary/Treasurer. In addition, Borgreen has been actively involved with the Montana Wildlife Federation (serving as Vice President for Internal Affairs), the Devil’s Kitchen Working Group and the Sun River Working Group. Borgreen is retired from the commercial printing industry and lives in Great Falls.
- Ryan Busse has worked in the outdoor industry for over 18 years. He has long been involved in sportsman’s issues and conservation. Among other things, Busse has served as board chair for Montana Conservation Voters and has been active in efforts to preserve the Rocky Mountain Front. He is a passionate hunter and fisherman and lives in Kalispell.
- Bruce Farling is a life-long hunter and angler, and has hunted and fished Montana for 40 years. He is in his 18th year as executive director of Montana Trout Unlimited. Previous to that he was conservation director for the Clark Fork Coalition. He also worked for the U.S. Forest Service for 10 years, including nine years in Montana and Idaho working in wilderness management.
- Bill Geer has been a Fish and Wildlife professional for 38 years. He started as a project biologist on Georgetown Lake for fisheries research in 1973 for the Montana Fish and Game Department. In 1984, Geer became the Director of the Utah division of Wildlife Resources. Geer currently works at the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, is a board member of Hellgate Hunters and Anglers, and is a Community Councilman in Lolo.
- John Gibson is the president of the Public Land and Water Access Association, which works to protect and improve public access to land and water. He is retired from the US Forest Service and lives in Billings. He is a former president of the Billings Rod and Gun Club and the Montana Wildlife Federation.
- Kathy Hadley is a lifelong hunter, angler and conservationist. She lives on a ranch in the Upper Clark Fork valley, near Galen. She is a former president of the Montana Wildlife Federation and was a founding board member of the Clark Fork Coalition. Hadley is currently the Western Vice Chair of the National Wildlife Federation Board of Directors and is a member of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Private Land/Public Wildlife Advisory Council.
- Gayle Joslin is a wildlife biologist and worked for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks for 30 years. She is the secretary and founding board member of Orion—The Hunters Institute. Gayle is also the Issues Chair for the Helena Hunters and Anglers Association, an affiliate of the Montana Wildlife Federation. She has conducted Hunter Education Wildlife Identification courses and has taught riflery at Becoming an Outdoors Woman seminars.
- Chris King has spent most of his life as a rancher and is a County Commissioner in Petroleum County. He is also a member of the Private Land/Public Wildlife organization. This group works on hunting access issues and conflicts between private landowners, outfitters and hunters in Montana.
- Ben Lamb is an avid fly fisherman and big game hunter who loves to spend as much time as possible in wild country. He is the Conservation Director for State and National Issues for the Montana Wildlife Federation, Montana's oldest and largest Hunter/Angler Advocacy group. Lamb has worked for over 8 years as a sportsmen's advocate in both Montana and Wyoming, and served on the board of directors for the Wyoming Wildlife Federation and the Animal Damage Management Board of Wyoming before moving to Montana.
- Perry Miller is a Blaine County Justice of the Peace. Miller is a landowner in Blaine County and avid hunter and fisherman.
- Randy Newberg currently is the host and producer of the critically acclaimed outdoor show On Your Own Adventures, a show focused on teaching hunters how to hunt on public lands, without guides. Newberg has been a committee chairman and board member for many conservation groups. He is currently Treasurer and past President of Orion the Hunters Institute. He is a co-founder of a local rod and gun club, Headwaters Fish and Game Association in Bozeman.
- Karl Rappold is a lifelong cattle rancher. His family has been in the business since 1882, located West of Dupuyer. He rode saddle broncos and bulls for more than a decade in rodeos. Karl opens his ranch up every year to a lucky group of hunters, many of which are out for their first time with family.
- Joelle Selk is the first Vice President of the Montana Bowhunters Association and the chairman of the MBA's Legislative Committee. She is an active member of the Traditional Bowhunters of Montana and the Montana Wildlife Federation. Her passion for hunting and wildlife conservation spans 25 years and she is honored to collaborate with sportsmen committed to fostering healthy and diverse wildlife populations.
- Pat Smith is a partner in a Montana law firm that specializes in American Indian law. He is a former managing attorney for the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes, a member of the Assiniboine Tribe, and presently serves on the Montana Redistricting Commission. His fly rod, shotgun and rifle are no strangers to Montana’s great outdoors.
- Land Tawney is a 5th generation Montana who grew up with a fly rod and gun in hand. He served as the president of Hellgate Hunters and Anglers and Senior Manager of Sportsmen's leadership for the National Wildlife Federation. In addition he chairs the Private Land/Public Wildlife Council and serves as vice chair of the Phil Tawney Hunter Conservation Endowment.
- Brett Todd is the President-elect of the Montana Outfitter and Guide Association. He is also a member of the Private Land/ Public Wildlife organization. This group works on hunting access issues and conflicts between private landowners, outfitters and hunters in Montana. Todd has been a guide since 1988. He is a former President of the Professional Wilderness Outfitters Association.
- Dan Vermillion was raised on the banks of Yellowstone River in Montana. After spending years guiding some of the world’s most exotic and famed fisheries, Vermillion formed Sweetwater Travel with his brothers, Jeff and Pat Vermillion. Sweetwater Travel is based in Livingston, Montana and owns and operates fishing camps in Mongolia, Brazil, Alaska, British Columbia, and Montana. He is also the Commissioner for southwestern Montana for Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks.
- Steve Vinnedge has been a warden with Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) since 1984. He trained in Billings, worked in Colstrip for four years and has since been located in Great Falls since 1989. In 2006, Vinnedge became a Sergeant with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. He has been married to his wife Donna for 32 years and has three daughters, all of whom still hunt. Vinnedge attended Bigfork High School and went on to graduate from the University of Montana.
- Irv Wilke is the President of the Billings Rod and Gun Club and has been involved with the group for more than a decade. He is also the Vice President for the Laurel Rod and Gun Club as well as the Laurel Rifle Club. Wilke is a voting representative for the former at Montana Wildlife Federation meetings. He is also involved in maintaining the Black Otter Bowman archery courses.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus is a bipartisan caucus made up of members from the House and Senate.