BAUCUS, TESTER CALL ON FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE TO HEED PUBLIC COMMENT, OPEN RED ROCK LAKES FOR HUNTING
Senators Say Land was Intended to be open to Montanans when Purchased through Land and Water Conservation Fund
(Washington, D.C.) – Montana Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester are calling on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to heed the public comment of more than 30 wildlife organizations and open additional areas at Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge to waterfowl and big game hunting.
“No one has a greater interest in protecting Montana’s natural resources than the Montana sportsmen who know, love and use our lands every day. I trust Montanans to know best how to manage Montana land, and I hope the Fish and Wildlife Service will honor the intent of our original LWCF purchase and heed the call of Montanans,” said Baucus, who made the original request for funds to secure the Centennial Valley lands through the Land and Water Conservation Fund in 1985 – with the intent to keep this land accessible to all Montanans, including sportsmen.
"As Chairman of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus, I know improving land access is one of the most important issues facing Montana’s hunters and anglers," Tester said. "This proposed alternative is a smart, well-balanced plan that expands access for sportsmen while preserving one of Montana's crown jewels. I look forward to working with Fish and Wildlife to move this proposal forward."
Tony Jewett, past Executive Director of the Montana Wildlife Federation, called the Senators’ letters ‘a welcomed action standing up for Montana’s sportsmen’.
“A big thanks to Max and Jon for standing up for expanded hunting opportunities in the Centennial Valley. This is the kind of direct, no-nonsense action we need to keep our traditions alive not just for us but for our kids down the line,” Jewett said.
In November, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a new hunt plan for the Red Rock Lakes Refuge, and the deadline for public comment closed December 16, 2011. More than 30 organizations commented in support of expanding the proposed boundaries, including Wildlife Management Institute, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, and Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, and nearly every sportsmen’s group in Montana.
The Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to reach its final decision soon because formal boundary changes must be published in the Federal Register at least 90 days prior to the start of the next hunting season.
Text of the Senators’ letters to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe are available below.