Sen. Tester looks to outdoor economy


by Jeff Womack

BILLINGS- The outdoor economy in Montana brings in almost $2.5 billion in annual revenue.

Six area hunting and fishing organizations held an assembly in Billings Thursday afternoon to ask Senator Jon Tester to continue fighting to protect public land access.

One of the issues taking center stage is the Land and Water Conservation Fund. LWCF money is used to buy land and water and easements for public access. The funds are used for access and hunting and fishing habitat. Recent budget cuts have set the program back.

Sen. Baucus and Sen. Tester re-introduced legislation over the summer to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

"If you don't access to the habitat, in other words if you can't get into those areas where the elk are doing good, the mule deer are doing good it doesn't do you much good. We have to figure out ways we can enhance access around the country, particularly in Montana for our public lands," said Tester.

Tester was recently honored by the Boone and Crockett Club for his efforts to expand public access for hunters nationwide.