Tester Secures Major Victories for Montana Hunters and Anglers in Senate Energy Bill

Montana Sportsmen Praise Tester for Work to Increase Public Access, Protect Public Lands, and Expand Shooting Opportunities

(U.S. Senate)-Senator Jon Tester today secured major victories for Montana sportsmen after the Senate passed key provisions from his legislation that increases public access for hunting and fishing, protects public lands, and expands shooting opportunities on public lands.

“Montanans have a proud outdoor heritage, and access to our public lands is critical to our rural way of life,” Tester said. “This legislation will increase public access for folks who love to hunt, fish, and shoot and it has long been supported by outdoor enthusiasts across Montana.”

Tester successfully added an amendment that attached many of the provisions from his Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act to the Energy Policy Modernization Act, which is currently being considered by the Senate. The Energy Policy Modernization Act also permanently reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which Tester has championed for years.

Montana sportsmen praised Tester’s leadership after the vote.

“I applaud Senator Tester for his continued efforts to increase public access for Montana hunters and anglers,” said Land Tawney, President and CEO of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. “As a lifelong outdoorsman, I know how important our state’s outdoor heritage is and Senator Tester’s leadership ensures that I will be able to continue to access my favorite hunting spot, and my kids and grandkids will be able to as well.”

“With the passage of this bill, Senator Tester has yet again secured several concrete wins for Montana’s hunters, anglers, and our $6 billion outdoor economy,” said Dave Chadwick, executive director of the Montana Wildlife Federation. “At a time of so much political gridlock and partisan rhetoric, Montanans are truly fortunate to have a Senator who is so focused on getting the job done.”

Tester’s provisions from his Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act that were passed by the Senate today include the following:

  • Require at least $10 million of annual Land and Water Conservation Fund funding be available for improving public access to existing federal lands.
  • Direct land managers to identify and develop plans to provide access to high-priority lands for hunting, fishing, and shooting.
  • Require BLM and Forest Service lands to be open for hunting, fishing, and shooting.
  • Reauthorize the North American Wetlands Conservation Act through 2019.
  • Increase the states authority to fund shooting ranges on public lands.

Provisions from Tester’s Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act were also included as an amendment to the Energy Policy Modernization Act, which streamlines the permitting process for wind, solar and geothermal development on public lands where development makes the most sense.

The Senate is expected to vote on final passage of the bill either later tonight or tomorrow.