Family agriculture and conservation group expands into new region during 50th anniversary year
Northern Plains Resource Council was founded in 1972 with a mission to protect family agriculture, steward Montana’s natural resources, and ensure that everyday people have a say in the decisions that affect their communities. The Billings-based grassroots organization works on statewide issues but also has twelve local affiliates (similar to chapters) that focus on campaigns specific to their regional communities.
As Northern Plains enters its 50th anniversary year, the group is launching a new, thirteenth affiliate — Golden Triangle Resource Council (GTRC) — which will include membership from Cascade, Chouteau, Ponderosa, and Teton Counties. A launch party for the affiliate will be held on Thursday, April 28 from 6 pm to 8 pm at the Celtic Cowboy in Great Falls. The event is open to all.
Just like within the larger organization, community members serve as the leaders and driving force behind every Northern Plains affiliate. Jennisse Waters, an architect-in-training who lives in Highwood, is one of those community leaders who served on the affiliate’s local organizing committee which helped shape the mission, vision, and first campaign goals for GTRC. Waters noted her connection to the region’s agricultural heritage as a motivating force to become a Golden Triangle member.
“I live outside of Great Falls in the middle of expansive farmlands, surrounded by fields and fields of wheat,” said Waters. “Farmers and ranchers are my friends. Their livelihood stems from the health of the soil, crops, herds, and flocks. I wanted the opportunity to highlight a part of this country that feels in jeopardy of disappearing.” Waters also described how GTRC “gives her a voice and the opportunity to act with intention.”
Waters and fellow members of GTRC chose to focus their earliest efforts on two campaigns. One is bringing Commercial Property-Assessed Capital Enhancements (C-PACE) to their counties. C-PACE is an innovative financing tool that allows farmers, ranchers, and small business owners to secure private funding to increase the energy efficiency of their properties.
Members are also planning a “Solarize” campaign for the area, a coordinated effort that makes installing solar arrays easier and more accessible for local home and business owners. Northern Plains affiliates across Montana have successfully organized similar C-PACE and Solarize campaigns, giving GTRC a tried and tested model for their local work.
Jessica Stiles, a Great Falls resident and member of the GTRC planning committee, noted her enthusiasm for these campaigns and the group’s future expansion into other issues.
“GTRC has a list of issues that we feel our community is interested in, and we are always open to suggestions, but the first issue we are choosing to tackle is incorporating the use of solar power,” said Stiles. “We have some great information and insight from other affiliates and are super excited about the prospect of solar power in our area.”
Members of GTRC’s planning committee defined their mission as follows:
Golden Triangle Resource Council brings farmers, ranchers, Native people and other concerned citizens together from Cascade, Chouteau, Teton, and Pondera Counties to build diverse coalitions in service of the land and the people who live here. We fight for the quality of our land, water, air, and food, and we work as an example and an active force for free, transparent, decentralized and democratic governing institutions that treat all Montanans equally.
GTRC members encourage all to attend the April 28 launch party for Golden Triangle Resource Council from 6 to 8 pm at the Celtic Cowboy, 116 1st Ave. S., Great Falls. The event will be held downstairs in the Celtic Cowboy’s Dark Horse Hall.
The event provides an opportunity to learn more about the group and socialize with like-minded folks. Heavy hors d’ oeuvres provided with drinks available for purchase. To learn more visit: NorthernPlains.org/Welcome-