Hunt club recognizes Tester for access work

Great Falls Tribune

MISSOULA — The Boone and Crockett Club on Friday recognized Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., for his leadership in improving access for hunters nationwide.

A Boone and Crockett Club news release said the club has seldom honored an individual outside the club for efforts to improve America’s hunting heritage or wildlife conservation in the club’s 123 years. Club officials chose to honor Tester because they believe he stands out among his peers for his persistent and remarkable work on behalf of sportsmen and women, the release states.

In a ceremony at the national headquarters of the conservation organization founded by Theodore Roosevelt, Boone and Crockett Club president emeritus Lowell E. Baier presented Tester with a plaque and a speech specifically in response to Tester’s leadership in the Making Public Lands Public Act.

Tester’s proposed legislation would provide funding for improving public access to existing federal lands. The secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior would be required to utilize 1.5 percent, or a minimum of $10 million annually, of their Land and Water Conservation Fund budgets to acquire public access to existing federal lands through easements, rights-of-way or fee title acquisitions from willing sellers. If passed, the bill has the potential to open hundreds of thousands of acres of federal public land to hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreational activities each year, the release states. The club said nearly half of all hunters use public lands. A report to Congress shows that more than 35 million acres of land administered by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service have inadequate hunter access. A lack of access to hunting grounds is cited as the top reason why hunters drop out and cease contributing to conservation. efforts Baier called Tester “one of the real champions in Washington, D.C., for hunting and conservation and our way of life.”