Floyd Quiram, MLA President
Well, two years passes mighty fast and even with the COVID (can I call it a nightmare?) putting a lid on everyone and everything (especially the fun things) we have managed to be somewhat successful in our endeavors. Still, we anticipate some trials ahead. Personally, I reject the term “new normal” as I believe it ties directly to the freedoms we have enjoyed for a good long time.
There was no question MLA was affected. Nearly all social gatherings were cancelled and all or most of our educational opportunities were erased. The business of keeping the MLA a working body, healthy and prosperous was accomplished by a great staff that kept the wheels turning without a hitch. Kudo’s all around!! Everyone I talk to greatly missed the camaraderie and the benefits of getting together to discuss any and all current events. To all those who missed educational opportunities either required or optional, we hope to see you this spring.
On a positive note, the young “techy” folks really demonstrated that they could “Zoom” around while leaving me sometimes in the dust.
I want to touch on some events, some sobering and some to be cheered, you decide.
· The loss of friends, family, co-workers and business associates is, of course, all part of life (a sad part). The MLA family endured this throughout these times and I would encourage all to remember those lost and help those most closely affected by kind words and good deeds.
· A great accomplishment for MLA in this trying time was the success of the Emerging Leaders Program and the fact 13 members or employees of members participated in a series of educational opportunities that highlighted a lot of info that will be beneficial to the graduates going forward to either running a business, being a better employee or even using those skills in MLA business.
· We now have a new (old) federal government that looks a lot like 8 years ago. We even have the former US Agriculture Secretary back on board. So, we can be assured that all things “climate change” or “Green New Deal” will be front and center. Hopefully there will be much discussion about renewing and caring for our forests (sustainable stewardship) that would actually benefit our world with the revival of something resembling a healthy forest – healthy communities’ conversation that might just recognize that healthy young forests are great for carbon storage.
· Also, our statewide elections reaffirmed to me the “dirt under the fingernails crowd” … that’s us!! Have not been thrown under the bus. Hopefully, resource use and resource management can be at the top of the “to do list”.
· On a local note, but yet having ramifications across the state is the seemingly constant change of ownership of the Anaconda Copper Mining, Burlington Northern, Champion, Plum Creek, Weyerhaeuser, Southern Pine, Green Diamond and most recently a 100,000 plus acre purchase by a private Texas group. Add in conservation easement holders Montana Fish and Game, Fed Wildlife Refuge and those historical Forestlands look like the frame work of a cross word puzzle. WOW! Let’s hope that a majority of the acres can remain in the timber to be managed in the future.
Sandy and I have some personal highlights. In the months of July, August and December we had the opportunity to travel across Montana with the safety rangers that in the end amounted to seven days. We visited with members in their homes, at their offices and best of all on the jobsites. The three amazing trips exemplified the awesomeness not only of employers and employees but of the greatness of Montana. In total we crossed paths with 23 different entities. We met members, employees, mill owners, truck owners and foresters in the mix that were all more than willing to stop and discuss issues affecting them. Our travels went to the Swan Valley to St. Ignatius, to Missoula, Helena, almost to Belt and all the way to Roundup. It was great!! Thanks to all!!
As Sandy and I depart from this office, Sandy is very much counting on Rich T signing a life long contract to continue the Truck Stop column. I think sometimes it’s the first thing she reads.
We look forward to seeing a lot of folks at the MLA Annual Meeting May 14th & 15th in Kalispell when I pass the gavel to incoming president, Mike Newton. I know going forward the MLA is in great hands. Thanks to all and please continue to support the MLA not only with your participation but with your ideas.
Our future is Growing!