• Reilly Neill

Montana Needs a Sustainability Plan

Updated: Dec 9, 2019

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 Council on Climate Change. This Council will be 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 is not always the government's responsibility to resolve issues, it is the government's responsibility to help keep a watchful eye on the future and guide the State’s security for succeeding generations.

Montana is a unique and beautiful state. 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 Sustainability Plan for Montana, planning for the next 10 years to continue work and prepare for impacts and effects of climate change across all stage agencies and economic sectors.

The Montana 2035 Sustainability Plan should reflect the will and sentiments of its citizenry. In the initiative, a task force will be appointed to continue gathering information from residents, county planning directors, policy makers 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 Climate Solutions Council Report, the 2017 Climate Assessment, the State of Montana Consolidated Plan and the Montana Renewable Development Plan.

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.

What is Montana 2035?

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. For full text of the proposed #Montana2035 Initiative, click here.

The Montana 2035 Task Force will be comprised of State Senate and House members, representatives from State universities, a representative of the governor’s office, 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. The group will review existing state plans, recommendations, assessments and other fundamental components of community planning and develop recommendations on creating the Montana 2035 Sustainability Plan.

A two-year planning process will engage residents through rounds of community meetings in every county, internet outreach through a website, and online surveys and focus group meetings with stakeholders and experts. These sessions will also serve an educational purpose.

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.

Looking to the Future

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 full text of the proposed 2025 Initiative, click here. This plan is a framework for the Montana 2035 initiative. Please submit comments to: or call 370-1492.

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