Big Sky Connection



Eric Tegethoff

February 23, 2017

HELENA, Mont. - A coalition of groups across the West is concerned Congress could overturn the Bureau of Land Management's new land-use planning policies before Representative Ryan Zinke of Montana is confirmed as Interior Secretary.

Last week, the U.S. House voted to repeal the Obama-era rule known as "Planning 2.0," under the Congressional Review Act or CRA. That leaves the rule's fate in the hands of the Senate.

Rick Potts, the former manager of the Charles M. Russell Wildlife Refuge in northeastern Montana, says the new process includes public input at the beginning so that plans aren't mired in litigation for years.

"Planning 2.0 really addresses that head on and helps get all the issues identified and out on the table early on in a planning process, so that they can be addressed and resolved," he explained.

If the planning rules are repealed under the CRA, it could tie the hands of the next Interior Secretary. The CRA repeal prohibits the agency from issuing any rules that are "substantially the same" as previous rules without approval from Congress.

The goal of Planning 2.0 is to give the public and the many stakeholders, who advocate for a variety of uses of BLM land, a greater and more collaborative role in the BLM planning process. Potts points out that BLM has been working for the past decade on this new approach.

"I can only believe Congress has gotten some bad information about what Planning 2.0 does and doesn't do, because it actually decreases the red tape and makes the planning process more efficient, more effective," he said. "It gives state and local governments more of a say."

Earlier this month, the Western Governors' Association, which includes Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, sent a letter to Congress expressing concern over Planning 2.0, and asking the agency to revise it in collaboration with states. However, the rules and any potential revisions would be banished for good if Planning 2.0 is taken away under the CRA.

Support for this reporting was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

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February 15, 2017

Billings, MT - Nurture your creative spirit with one or all of three upcoming art classes scheduled at the Yellowstone Art Museum. Classes include “Two-Color Watercolor” with illustrator Jason Jam, “The Art of Bead Embroidery” with Susan Germer, and “Cola Pen Drawing” with calligrapher Sarah Behrens Lemon.

In the “Two-Color Watercolor” class, students will explore how to use values, shapes, and an array of techniques to create exciting watercolor paintings. The class takes place at the museum Saturday, February 25, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The cost of the class is $35.00 for members and $40.00 for non-members. There is no supply fee but students are asked to bring all supplies recommended by the instructor.  Call the museum for details.  This class is full but there is a waiting list.


Susan Germer will teach a variety of sewing techniques using a colorful assortment of beads and fabric in her class “The Art of Bead Embroidery.”  No previous experience is required.  Having worked in this art form since 1994, Germer will instruct students on the creation of unique works of art using a beading needle, thread, fabric, pin back, leather, beeswax, and buttons. The class takes place at the museum Saturday, March 25, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Cost of the class is $60.00 for members and $67.00 for non-members along with a $30.00 supply fee to be paid directly to the instructor.


Historically, master scribes used a variety of materials to make customized pens. Calligrapher Sarah Behrens Lemon will follow this tradition as she instructs students on the creation of both a calligraphy pen and/or a creative new drawing tool from a recycled soda can in a class that takes place at the museum on Saturday, May 20, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.  Cost of the class is $35.00 for members and $40.00 for non-members.  An additional supply fee of $15.00 will paid directly to the instructor.


To register for any of these classes, visit or call the Front Desk at 406-256-6804.


The museum is a barrier-free facility and free parking is available. Members are admitted free, and the general public can visit for a nominal admission fee.  For more information, visit the museum’s website