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The following opinion was written and submitted by Chris Steffen, Muley Fanatic Foundation Director of Operations.
I am writing this letter to clarify a few items that appeared in the May 30 edition of the Green River Star on the front-page article titled “$10,000 a Hard Pill for Council.” The article is talking about the decision the GR City Council is contemplating for funding the 2nd Annual Mansface Mountain Music Festival.
First, let me say that I fully respect and understand the financial decisions that the City Council is having to make regarding this funding and all other funding requests. As a past city employee and a resident of Green River myself, I appreciate their fiduciary efforts in making wise decisions with taxpayers’ funds. They are charged with many difficult decisions and an ever-changing economy.
That being said, what I wanted to speak to was the why’s associated with this festival. When we launched the idea of doing a music festival here in Green River we were asked why a non-profit mule deer conservation organization would take on something like this? What we saw, going through the 2018 legislative process in passing House Bill 0039, the Wildlife Conservation License Plate Bill, was that there is a large group of “non-consumptive users” of our wildlife resources, even in the state of Wyoming. By non-consumptive, I mean those that appreciate wildlife, our wild places and in the case of the wildlife license plate discussion, roadway safety, but were not hunters.
Throughout much of our daily interactions with folks, be it at fundraising banquets or other events, we are talking with people who hunt and are, therefore, contributing to conservation efforts through the North American Model of Conservation by buying licenses and other hunting/outdoor related items. For someone who maybe only takes photos of wildlife or just appreciates seeing critters, we thought how cool would it be to bring those people, some of which would never hear of Muley Fanatic Foundation, to a music event in our beautiful town and on Expedition Island, which is an awesome setting. With that, the festival was born.
Beyond that, we wanted to utilize the profit from that first event to jump start the newly created wildlife license plate account that is in place to build overpasses, underpasses, fencing projects around the Cowboy state. Unfortunately, the first festival didn’t allow us to make the deposit into that account we wanted due to the event not being profitable, but we learned from the experience and strived to make it better in the future.
What MFF also wanted to do is bring a July event to the area that wasn’t something that had been done before. We know what Flaming Gorge Days brings to the area in June and that the River Festival is a staple in the area in August, but nothing was going on in July. We want to have this be a yearly event in town and for people to come out and enjoy a relaxing setting, some good music and a family event. Also, these type of music festivals develop a regional following, bringing in folks from all over to attend, and by default bringing revenue to the City of Green River.
What the article mentions, and what this event is NOT, is a mechanism to pay off the D.E.E.R. Project, which is a multi-year collaborative project that MFF took on with the University of Wyoming five years ago. Although we are in the home stretch of paying off the $1.3 million-dollar price tag of this valuable research, the raffle we launched was happening with or without the music festival. We changed things up from last years event, removed all the smaller time-consuming raffles and tried to focus this year’s event on the music and getting folks to come out to the event. We will draw the winners for the raffle on Saturday evening of the music festival but we are not relying on the music festival to fund any portion of it and as a matter of fact, the raffle may be sold out before the music festival happens.
In closing, we would enjoy the City of Green River’s support but that decision is theirs to make. We hope to have many come out to this year’s event to enjoy themselves and the great music we are bringing and we hope to be successful enough to continue the Mansface Mountain Music Festival for years to come.