Governor Steve Bullock today announced next steps to strengthen Montana’s state park system with the Montana Parks in Focus Commission and to ensure the Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks has the resources, capacity, and expertise to implement the Montana State Parks and Recreation Strategic Plan.
“Montana’s state parks are among our state’s greatest assets, offering not just windows into our past, but unparalleled opportunities to support community-based outdoor recreation, destination tourism, and vibrant main street economies across our state,” Governor Steve Bullock said. “Parks in Focus will bring the talent, the research and the energy needed to confront the challenges facing our state parks and ensure their cultural and natural heritage remains an asset for all current and future Montanans.”
Governor Bullock signed an Executive Order chartering the Montana Parks in Focus Commission as a public-private collaboration. The purpose of the Parks in Focus Commission is to provide expert, independent recommendations for the Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks on effective ways to implement the Montana State Parks and Recreation Strategic Plan. The principle focus will be on implementation of the three recommendations from that plan: developing diversified revenue streams, growing strategic partnerships, and building an engaged constituency for state parks.
"The Montana State Parks and Recreation Board looks forward to working hand-in-hand with the Parks in Focus Commission to advance our shared goals for implementation of the State Parks strategic plan," said Angie Grove, Chair of the State Parks and Recreation Board. "I am excited to be a part of this effort and look forward to working collaboratively to help grow and sustain support for our state parks."
The Parks in Focus Commission consists of 12 volunteer professionals. It will operate in a collaborative, transparent manner and will be active for a term of at least 12 months, holding four public meetings around the state to discuss leading issues, gather robust public input and ideas, and develop a framework for making recommendations in a final report.
Members selected to serve on the Commission include:
- Stace Lindsay (Chair) is President of Fusion Venture Partners, a strategic consulting and investment firm, and a senior Moderator for Aspen Global Leadership Network. A Montana native, Stace has also been an entrepreneur, investor, and a strategic advisor to senior business, government and nonprofit leaders around the world.
- Mark Aagenes is Director of External Affairs for The Nature Conservancy Montana. He manages the chapter's public policy work at the state and federal levels. Mark previously spent a decade as the Conservation Director for Montana Trout Unlimited.
- Lise Aangeenbrug is the new Executive Director for The Outdoor Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Outdoor Industry Association. She previously served as Executive Vice President for the National Park Foundation and was Executive Director of the Great Outdoors Colorado Trust Fund, the State of Colorado’s constitutionally created fund for protecting and enhancing parks, rivers, trails, open space and wildlife.
- Dr. Shane Doyle is an educator and cultural consultant who hails from Crow Agency, Montana. A member of the Crow tribe, Dr. Doyle is currently engaged in curriculum design throughout the state to implement Montana's Indian Education for All curriculum, and recently completed a postdoctoral appointment in genetic research at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
- Dave Galt is a fourth generation Montanan working in government affairs with the law firm Browning, Kaleczyc, Berry & Hoven. He served as Executive Director of the Montana Petroleum Association for ten years after retiring from the Montana Department of Transportation.
- Angie Grove spent 28 years with the Montana Legislative Audit Division, working specifically with the State Parks Division. In addition to being the owner (with her husband) of Great Divide Cyclery, Angie served for seven years on the board of the Prickly Pear Land Trust.
- Norma Nickerson has served since 1995 as the Director of the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research at the University of Montana’s W.A. Franke College of Forestry & Conservation. She is the 2011 recipient of the Greater Western Chapter Travel and Tourism Research Association Lifetime Achievement Award. Norma serves on the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, Helena branch, and sat on the Missoula Parks and Recreation board for five years.
- Michael Punke is an American writer, professor, policy analyst, attorney, and former Deputy US Trade Representative and US Ambassador to the World Trade Organization. Punke is the author of The Revenant; Fire and Brimstone: The North Butte Mining Disaster of 1917; and Last Stand: George Bird Grinnell, the Battle to Save the Buffalo, and the Birth of the New West. He is currently the Vice President of Global Public Policy for Amazon Web Services.
- Lance Trebesch is CEO/Co-Owner of TicketPrinting.com and Ticket River, custom ecommerce event products and online event management ticketing operating in the US, Canada, UK,and Australia. TicketPrinting.com’s base is in Harlowton, where it is one of the largest employers in Wheatland County. Lance is a founding member of Business for Montana’s Outdoors, which educates and advocates for the importance of open public lands as key growth drivers in the entrepreneurial economies of the West.
- Chas Vincent is a State Senator in the Montana Legislature from District 1 representing Libby, Montana, and serves as Chair of the Environmental Quality Council. Chas is a fourth-generation logger and currently works for Environomics, a Libby-based consulting firm.
- Jeff Welch is the founder of three companies specializing in tourism and outdoor recreation, including the advertising firm MERCURYcsc, and a passionate spokesman for Business for Montana’s Outdoors. Jeff serves on the Montana State Parks and Recreation Board and the Montana State Parks Foundation board.
- Dr. Aaron Wernham is a family physician and CEO of the Montana Healthcare Foundation. He founded and directed the Health Impact Project, a national initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trusts, and has served as a public health and policy advisor for Alaska Native tribes while working with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium.
The Parks in Focus Commission will be coordinated by two advisors, Deb Love and Ben Alexander of Resources Legacy Fund (RLF), Montana’s private partner with the effort. They will work closely with the Governor’s Office, Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks leadership and staff, the Montana State Parks and Recreation Board, and the Montana State Parks Foundation. The advisors will provide day-to-day support for the Commission and its activities. This will include preparing for Commission meetings, conducting or overseeing needed research, facilitating public engagement, managing work groups on delegated topics, and building a supporting coalition. RLF be responsible for covering its costs related to the Commission.