Building on Tester’s Bill, Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Receives Permanent Protection as Public Lands

This project was made possible through the Senator’s Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act

U.S. Senator Jon Tester today celebrated the completion of the second phase of the Absaroka-Beartooth Gateway acquisition project by Custer Gallatin National Forest, in partnership with the Greater Yellowstone Coalition (GYC). This project was made possible by the Senator’s Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act, which permanently withdraws federal mineral rights on roughly 30,000 acres of the Gallatin National Forest and prevents proposed mines from expanding onto unclaimed public land adjacent to the Park, and funding came from his Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). 

The New World Mining District is an area of historic patented and unpatented mining claims. Through efforts by Congress, the U.S. Forest Service, landowners, and partners, the Custer National Forest was able to acquire the majority of these claims. As of today, the Great Eastern Lode, Southern Spy Lode and New World Lode, totaling approximately 61 acres north of Cooke City, MT, have been conserved and are now included in the Custer Gallatin National Forest.

“The Absaroka-Beartooth Gateway acquisition project is proof of what can happen when the federal government works with local stakeholders to do the right thing for our recreational economies and our public lands,” said Tester. “Projects like this one are exactly what the Land and Water Conservation Fund is all about, and I’m proud to have secured this funding to protect the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness for generations of Montanans to enjoy.” 

Tester championed the Great American Outdoors Act, legislation that secures permanent funding for the LWCF at $900 million annually and allocates $9.5 billion to address maintenance backlogs on public lands across the United States.  

As a longtime public lands advocate, Tester has long fought to secure funding to improve access, make infrastructure improvements, and preserve Montana’s outdoor heritage. Earlier this month, he pushed for action on his Montana Headwaters Legacy Act, which will protect 384 miles of Montana’s most iconic rivers—including the Gallatin, Madison, and Smith as well as headwater streams in the Custer-Gallatin National Forest—to ensure they are permanently protected for the benefit and enjoyment of current and future generations from short-sighted special interests.

Additionally, his Blackfoot-Clearwater Stewardship Act, which is supported by 85% of Montanans and would 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, passed through the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, setting up the legislation for a full Senate vote.

A full list of Montana provisions Tester secured in appropriations can be found HERE.


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