10/19/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 10/19/2021 18:18
U.S. Senator Jon Tester's landmark Blackfoot-Clearwater Stewardship Act (BCSA) continued picking up momentum at a key hearing on Capitol Hill today.
Tester's bill to create jobs, protect thousands of acres of public land, and ensure future generations can access the world-class outdoor recreational opportunities available in the Blackfoot River watershed was heard by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
"This bill is the result of decades worth of on-the-ground collaboration among the folks who live, work, and play on the Blackfoot River watershed, and is a big step towards managing that landscape in a way that works for everyone," Tester said. "The Blackfoot-Clearwater Stewardship Act is a shining example of what can happen when Montanans work together, and I am excited to see the positive momentum this critical legislation is earning as we continue working towards creating jobs and protecting this landscape for generations to come."
The result of a collective effort between ranchers, recreationists, loggers, mountain bikers, and business owners, Tester's BCSA is a multi-use proposal that would protect thousands of acres of public land, ensure future generations can access outdoor recreational opportunities, and strengthen Montana's outdoor economy in the Blackfoot River Watershed.
Specifically, the bill would protect 79,060 acres of wildlife habitat in the Bob Marshall, Mission Mountains, and Scapegoat Wilderness Areas, open 2,013 acres of currently closed land to snowmobiling, and protect 3,835 acres for mountain biking and hiking. It would also require the Forest Service to prioritize its review of future recreational trail proposals from the collaborative group, and to conduct a forest health assessment that will help identify new timber projects on the landscape.
Montana business, outdoor, and community leaders praised Tester's bill:
"This year, Montana's rivers experienced severe drought, low flows, and high temperatures, but the Blackfoot remained open to anglers throughout the summer because it's fed by tributaries that are a constant source of cold and clean water," said Terri Raugland, co-owner of Blackfoot River Outfitters. "We can expect many more summers like the last one, and that means we must pass the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act now, to ensure those tributaries are protected and the Blackfoot's fishery remains as resilient as it did last summer. My business and so many others up and down the Blackfoot depend on it."
"MTB Missoula supports the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act because a wide spectrum of public land advocates and enthusiasts, including mountain bikers, were able to set aside their differences for the greater good that's represented in this bill," said John Stegmaier, Executive Director of MTB Missoula. "We believe collaboration is the best approach for solving our public land conflicts, and this bill reflects that approach."
"We've been plugging away at the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act for nearly 20 years now," said Blackfoot-Clearwater Stewardship Act Steering Committee member Lee Boman. "That determination to see this bill passed stems from the love we have for the Blackfoot and the obligation we feel to pass its beauty and health on to our kids and theirs. This bill serves all of us through the water it will protect, the wildlife habitat it will secure, and the economy it will fortify."
Tester first introduced the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act at the request of the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Project with the support of the local timber industry, and he re-introduced the bill last April.
Text of Tester's Blackfoot-Clearwater Stewardship Act is available HERE.