Governor Greg Gianforte (R-MT) hit the ground running in the last two weeks with major policy change announcements, releasing a budget proposal, and announcing his Cabinet picks. He also announced a slate of new appointees for state boards and commissions, including coveted positions on the Fish and Wildlife Commission, the Board of Regents, and other key assignments.

It's great to see real sportsmen chosen to oversee Montana FWP, versus the Democrat party political operatives and environmental activists we have seen too much of under the previous Administration.

Here's the full slate of board appointments announced by Gianforte in recent days:  

Fish and Wildlife Commission

  • Patrick Tabor, Whitefish. Qualification: District 1. Tabor is the owner of the Swan Mountain Group of Companies which includes stand-alone businesses in outfitting, guest ranching, snowmobiling and consulting. Tabor has served on the Montana Board of Outfitters and has been the president of the Montana Outfitters, and Guides Association and the Professional Wilderness Outfitters Association.
  • K.C. Walsh, Martinsdale. Qualification: District 3. Walsh, a dedicated conservationist, and a lifelong angler, hunter and outdoorsman, is the executive chairman of Simms Fishing Products and the director of the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation.
  • Brian Cebull, Billings. Qualification: District 5. A lifelong Montanan, Cebull is the owner and president of Nance Resources, Inc., a private oil and gas exploration and production company. Cebull also owns and manages a 20,000-acre Grove Creek Ranch in Carbon County, Montana. Cebull serves as president & CEO of GTUIT LLC, an innovative oil and gas service company that focuses on reducing emissions.

State Parks and Recreation Board

  • Jody Loomis, Helena. Qualification: District 1. Loomis is the president of Precision Crankshaft Inc., a crankshaft machining and engine balancing company located in Helena. Loomis also serves on the Montana State Parks Off Highway grant program advisory board.
  • Russ Kipp, Polaris. Qualification: District 2. Kipp is a 6th generation Montanan and an outfitter in Southwest Montana. Kipp has also served on several Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks resource advisory committees.
  • Kathy McLane, Glendive. Qualification: District 4. McLane serves on the Southeast Montana Tourism Council and has also served on the Montana Chamber of Commerce Board. McLane also worked as state director of constituent services for U.S. Congressman Rick Hill and as case work director for U.S. Senator Conrad Burns.

Board of Public Education

  • Susie Hedalen, Townsend. Hedalen is the superintendent of the Arrowhead School District in Livingston. Hedalen has experience in allocating federal programs, managing school funding streams and working with various tribal nations.

Board of Regents of Higher Education

  • Todd Buchanan, Billings. A financial advisor, Buchanan co-owns Buchanan Capital Inc. in Billings. Buchanan served in the United States Peace Corps as a volunteer in Nicaragua as a small business development specialist.

Board of Hail Insurance

  • Bing Von Bergen, Moccasin. Bergen is the owner and operator of Von Bergen Farms in Moccasin, Montana. Bergen has been farming for 41 years and raises wheat, barley, hay and peas.

Livestock Loss Board

  • Doreen Gillespie, Ethridge. Gillespie owns a ranch 60 miles east of Glacier National Park in Ethridge. She served as the president of Montana Women Involved in Farm Economics for two years and a brand inspector for more than 25 years.
  • Elaine Allestad, Big Timber. A third generation Montanan and a semi-retired rancher, Allestad serves as the Sweetgrass County Administrator and she was on the sub-committee of the Montana Advisory Wolf Plan Board.
  • Joseph Kipp, Browning. As a rancher, Kipp raises and markets Angus Source Beef calf crop and he is the owner of Morning Star Outfitters. Kipp also has experience in tribal management of predators.

Board of Livestock

  • Gene Curry, Valier. Curry has spent his life working in the livestock industry and his family runs a diversified operation with livestock and small grains in Valier.
  • Alan Redfield, Livingston. Redfield graduated from Montana State University with a degree in Agriculture Education and taught in Montana public schools for more than a decade. He ranches in Livingston.

Board of Milk Control

  • Staci Ketchum, Miles City. Raised in Eastern Montana, Ketchum runs a family ranch in Miles City. She works for the Developmental Educational Assistance Program, a non-profit organization that provides education, encouragement and opportunities throughout Eastern Montana. She is the Montana Farm Bureau County Vice President.
  • Ken Bryan, Roundup. Bryan graduated from Montana State University with a degree in animal science & ruminant nutrition. Bryan has worked at Cargill Animal Nutrition for more than a decade and is a technical specialist.
  • Scott Mitchell, Billings. Mitchell has been a chair of the Montana Board of Milk Control since 2011. For more than 28 years, Mitchell has practiced law in Montana and he is a partner at Holland & Hart, LLP.
  • Brian Beerman, Fairfield. Beerman was previously involved in the dairy industry as a producer for more than 40 years and is a chairman of the board of directors at the Skyline Lodge in Choteau, Montana. Beerman has been reappointed to the Montana Board of Milk Control
  • Travis Stroh, Glendive. Raised on a farm in Eastern Montana, Stroh has worked at SRS Crisafulli, Inc., a company that manufactures and markets pumping & dredging systems, for more than 15 years.

Board of Environmental Review

  • Steven P. Ruffatto, Columbus. Qualification: Hydrology. Ruffatto has been an attorney at Crowley Fleck PLLP since 1976 and now practices in the firm’s Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources Department.
  • Joseph T. Smith, Florence. Qualification: Government Planning. Smith serves as the Chief Operating Officer for Missoula Electric Cooperative and manages nearly 75 percent of the employees.
  • David W. Simpson, Billings. Qualification: Environmental Sciences. Simpson is an environmental scientist with over 45 years of experience in the Montana coal industry. He has worked extensively with DEQ permitting and regulatory programs for coal mining, water quality and air quality.
  • Jon C. Reiten, Billings. Qualification: Hydrology. Reiten is a hydrogeologist with the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology and has extensive experience in water supply development and management.

Transportation Commission

  • Shane Sanders, Great Falls. Qualification: District 2. Sanders works for United Airlines as a pilot flying the Boeing 777 out of San Francisco. A veteran of the U.S. Air Force, he was born and raised on a cattle ranch near Big Timber.
  • Loran Frazier, Bozeman. Qualification: District 3. Frazier worked for the Montana Department of Transportation for 27 years and is the lead transportation engineer for TD&H engineering.
  • Scott Aspenlieder, Billings. Qualification: District 5. Aspenlieder has over 15 years of experience in Civil and Water Resources engineering and has extensive experience with permitting and regulatory structures at the local, state, and federal levels for various industries.

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