Governor Steve Bullock last week rejected a proposal that would have generated over $15 million in rural commerce when he denied a joint Montana Outfitters and Guides Association and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks proposal to issue additional non-resident licenses to unsuccessful applicants who had previously booked through an outfitter.

Chairman Mac Minard commented on how the reversal will affect Montana’s economy.

“Outfitted tourism in the state of Montana represents the fourth largest direct expenditures by non-residents, following just behind fuel, food and lodging,” said Minard. “We all know that people don’t come to Montana to just eat, drive and sleep. So, it is troubling when you have an opportunity to inject some economic stimulus into the outfitted tourism, which drives all sectors of Montana’s economy.”

Minard said the proposal itself came from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

The proposal was put forward by the department of fish and game which would have allowed additional non-resident licenses to be issued if they were going with an outfitter,” he said. “That would have resulted in somewhere around $15 to $20 million dollars in additional economic stimulus, largely going to a rural economy that is already struggling with depressed crop and livestock prices.”

Minard listed the many parts of the travel and tourism economy that are being affected by the COVID 19 virus.

“The fishing industry is suffering, the early season pack trips into the wilderness are suffering, the rafting industry is suffering, many services coming in and out of Yellowstone Park and Glacier National Park are suffering,” he said. “It’s not just them, it is all aspects of industry that depend on these people, everybody from the folks that sell sandwiches to the folks that pump gas.”

Minard said non-residents will now be invited to apply to the alternate list and a randomized drawing will take place in six weeks to determine who (guided and unguided) will be allowed to have the returned licenses.