Tester Fires up the Crowd, Leads Panel on Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act at Last Best Outdoors Fest
Senator’s landmark legislation would protect public lands, increase public access to recreation, and strengthen Montana’s economy
U.S. Senator Jon Tester today led a panel discussion with Montana business leaders on his Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act and spoke to the crowd at the 3rd Annual Last Best Outdoors Fest in Missoula. The theme of this year’s festival was “Montana Jobs and the Outdoors: Highlighting the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act,” which focused on Tester’s legislation and the importance of Montana’s $7.1 billion outdoor recreation economy.
A made-in-Montana bill, the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act will protect thousands of acres of public land, ensure future generations can access outdoor recreational opportunities, and strengthen Montana's outdoor economy. Tester announced the bill’s reintroduction bill at the KettleHouse Brewing Company Taproom in Bonner earlier this summer.
“Every Montanan who loves to hunt, fish, hike, bike, and camp knows how critical public lands are to our way of life and our economy,” said Tester. “My Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act is a made-in-Montana solution that protects thousands of acres of wild land while honoring our commitment to Montana’s timber workers. I’m going to keep fighting to get this bill across the finish line so future generations continue to have public lands to celebrate at the Last Best Outdoors Fest for years to come.”
The result of a collaborative effort between ranchers, recreationists, loggers, mountain bikers, and business owners, the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act 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 79,000 acres of wildlife habitat in the Bob Marshall and Scapegoat Wilderness Areas, open 2,013 acres of currently closed land to snowmobiling, and protect 3,800 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.
The Last Best Outdoors Fest is an annual celebration of Montana’s public lands and their critical role in supporting more than 71,000 Montana jobs and generating billions of dollars for Montana’s economy.
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. Earlier this year, he sent a letter to Chair Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Ranking Member Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) requesting a markup of the legislation in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee as soon as possible. He also testified in support of the bill before the Committee last year.