Montana 2035 Initiative
What do the people of Montana want for the future of their state? What is the community’s will for the future of our economy, society and environment? What steps can we take now to achieve that preferred future for our children and their children?
We need to combine information across state and independent agencies to craft a long-range plan for Montana in order to prepare for projected climate impacts.
Already, the wheels of action are in motion in Montana. After the Montana Climate Assessment was released in 2017, Governor Bullock appointed a Special Climate Solutions Council. This Council is researching solutions and existing framework, holding public meetings and presenting recommendations to the Montana State Legislature about their work.
There are many real, serious, and immediate problems that our state faces on an annual basis. While it's not always the government's responsibility to resolve those issues, it is the government's responsibility to keep a watchful eye on the future and guide the state in the right direction for succeeding generations.
Montana is a unique and beautiful place. For many, it is the ideal place to live and is second to none for providing a preferred quality of life. However, to improve or even maintain the quality of life in this state, planning the overall theme and goals of the state is important to our future success.
Many quality-of-life issues, including water quality, air quality, land use, and energy resources are important to the people of Montana and should be the focus for planning Montana’s future.
A Plan for Montana
We need to craft a full Sustainability Plan for Montana, planning for the next ten years to and each decade thereafter to set a stage for continuing work and preparing our state for impacts and effects of climate change across all state agencies and economic sectors.
The Montana 2035 Sustainability Plan should reflect the will and sentiments of its citizenry. In the Montana 2035 Initiative, a task force will be appointed to develop recommendations and subsequent rounds of statewide meetings will seek information from residents, county planning directors, policymakers and experts as well as dozens of youth, community, business, environmental, labor and other stakeholders and organizations about the best way forward for Montana.
Information-gathering will include statistically-sound general population surveys as well as existing state plans, assessments, and recommendations such as the 2017 Climate Assessment, the State of Montana Consolidated Plan and the Montana Renewable Development Plan among many other resources.
Montana needs a balanced approach to the future where economic, social and environmental goals are in balance. We want to preserve a vibrant, diversified economy; a healthy quality of life that is grounded in a multi-ethnic culture; and healthy natural resources.
The foundation of the Montana 2035 initiative is the “triple bottom line” concept where economic, community and environmental goals are in balance. Our best way forward is to collectively determine the long-term future of our state with all the resources we have available and then put the plan in action.
What is Montana 2035?
The Montana 2035 Council will be a task force comprised of State Senate and House members, representatives from state universities, a representative of the governor, representatives from departments of agriculture and commerce and other agencies, the state auditor, and a selection of county planning officials and directors nominated from all regions of Montana.
The task force will be led by a group of citizens with a diverse range of experience in planning, community, business, the environment, and government. This task force will review existing state plans, recommendations, assessments and other fundamental components of community planning, and develop recommendations on creating the Montana 2035 Sustainability Plan.
The task force shall review, solicit input on, and develop recommendations for the creation of the Montana 2035 plan to ensure its relevance as a guide for the future long-term development of the state and report to the legislature and the governor in the 2023 legislative session.
The task force shall submit recommendations as to whether the existing bases for determining priorities are adequate in allocating limited resources such as public funds, land, water, services or programs and improving coordination of federal, state and county policies, programs, and regulatory activities. And, if the systems are found inadequate, recommendations will be made on how to improve these resources.
The assessment will also examine the tools needed for the private sector to better compete in the local, national and global economies and provide a listing of Montana’s inherent economic assets and how best to use those assets to define the state’s economic role in the future.
The task force will also look at reducing Montana’s greenhouse gases, waste reduction and recycling, agriculture and food security, clean transportation, affordable housing, education and training of Montana’s workforce and supporting our indigenous cultures.
The Montana 2035 Process
A two-year planning process will engage residents through rounds of community meetings in every region, internet outreach through a website, and online surveys and focus group meetings with stakeholders and experts. Data will also be collected through public opinion polls and the creation of the Montana 2035 Issue Book, which will contain extensive research on natural resource use, economic development, and social issues.
Prior to the 2025 legislative session, the State auditor will prepare the Montana 2035 Sustainability Plan to define and implement state goals, objectives, policies, and priority guidelines to aid in the future long-term development of the State.
The legislature and the auditor will look to update and revise the plan every ten years thereafter.
The Montana 2035 Sustainability Plan should reflect our best efforts as a state. In creating the plan, we will place the wisdom of our communities first in a comprehensive and inclusive planning process.
We need to engage the community in a public discussion to achieve a consensus on the State's preferred future and coordinate the actions needed to sustain a growing and vibrant economy while maintaining a high quality of life for all residents and visitors.
For a full draft of the proposed 2025 Initiative, click here.
Please submit comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A similar initiative in Hawaii launched in 2007 is the direct basis for the above Montana 2035 planning process. Benchmark information from this effort can be found here.