Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Project deserves support

by Helena Independent Record

Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

For well over a decade, a diverse group of neighbors – ranchers, loggers, outfitters, business owners, snowmobilers and conservationists – in Ovando and Seeley Lake have been doing exactly what Teddy prescribed. We have been working together as the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Project on a proposal for solving long-term challenges on public lands in our communities’ backyards.

Our hard work has involved openness, patience, trust, and ensuring that we arrived at a proposal that worked for ranchers, hunters, anglers, guides, outfitters, conservationists, mountain bikers, snowmobilers – for the great majority of people in this state. The result of our work is the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act (BCSA). Last year, Senator Jon Tester introduced this bill.

Because of the hard work we put into ensuring this bill benefits Montana in all of its diversity, the BCSA enjoys the support of 74 percent of Montanans, including 74 percent of Republicans. With this kind of bipartisan support among Montanans, the BCSA should also have the support of Senator Daines and Congressman Gianforte.

The BCSA is a mixture of forest restoration and timber industry support, increased recreational access, and conservation designations that look at the entire Blackfoot-Clearwater landscape and communities, and finds solutions that benefit all. Our proposal is the result of over a decade of transparent community meetings, compromise and working together locally to collectively manage our public lands. Our bill has incredibly diverse support, and deserves to be supported by our entire delegation based upon its own merits.

We’ve been successful in building a collaborative that resulted in legislation because twelve years ago we came to the table, talked to each other, made compromises, and found a place where we all walk away with more than what we started with. That process wasn’t easy, and we haven’t made the extreme outliers happy, and we likely won’t.

Diverse interests have linked arms, put egos and narrow agendas aside, and found common ground that is reflected within our proposal. We’ve successfully put partisan politics aside and focused on what’s really important in Montana: our families, our lands, our wildlife, our rivers, and our economy. This is the right way to do things. It’s the Montana way.

The Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act deserves support from our entire Montana delegation. If our Delegation truly believes in collaboration among diverse interests and bottom-up, locally-driven solutions, the BCSA deserves to be signed into law.

Written by:

Smoke Elser, retired outfitter and wilderness educator
Gordy Sanders, Pyramid Mountain Lumber
Jack Rich, Rich Ranch Outfitting and Snowmobile Adventuresâ?¨
Jon Haufler, Ecosystem Management Research Instituteâ?¨
Bill Wall, Sustainability Inc.
Lee Boman – Seeley Lake ROCKS
Jim Stone, Rolling Stone Ranch
Jordan Reeves, The Wilderness Society
Mack Long, Bob Marshall Wilderness Outfittersâ?¨
Connie Long, Bob Marshall Wilderness Outfittersâ?¨
Addrien Marx, Seeley Lake Business Leaderâ?¨
Tim Love, Retired, US Forest Service
Zack Porter, Montana Wilderness Association
Roger Marshall, Retired Forester
Shannon Rich, Seeley Lake Driftriders Snowmobile Club