Tester Holds Roundtable to Seek Feedback from Timber, Ranchers, and Conservationists on Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Project

(Missoula, Mont.)—Senator Jon Tester today met with a coalition of timber workers, ranchers, small business owners and conservationists to discuss potential legislation that could complete the land management reform efforts in the Blackfoot Clearwater watershed.

For nearly a decade, Tester and the coalition have been working to finalize the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Project—a land management reform effort that consists of timber harvest, forest restoration, conservation, and recreation south and west of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. The timber harvest and forest restoration projects are already underway and now the coalition is looking to re-launch the conservation and recreation aspects of the proposal.

“I have always believed that public lands policy should include logging, recreation, and conservation,” Tester said. “Land management plans must be driven from the ground up, and with broad support from folks from different walks of life. I am excited that this coalition of Montanans has remained at the table and it is critical that they know that I will continue to listen and work with them.”

In 2010, Tester helped launch the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Project by securing the region to be among the first landscape-scale timber and forest restoration projects to be funded by the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program. This significant investment has directly resulted in the creation of 130 jobs and $33 million of local economic activity in the Seeley-Swan Valley.

Members of the coalition are now ready to move forward with legislation that will increase conservation to preserve more than 80,000 acres of land and establish new snowmobile areas for recreation use in the Blackfoot Clearwater watershed.

Tester is making it a priority to hear from members of the coalition before moving forward with any legislation.

Members of the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Project coalition praised Tester’s efforts after the roundtable:

“Ten years ago when we all came together we created a place for success. Since that time, some things have changed, and some have not. The Partnership’s commitment to strengthening Montana’s economy is unchanged and we thank Senator Tester for sticking with us,” said Gordy Sanders, Resource Manager of Pyramid Mountain Lumber in Seeley Lake.

“The Blackfoot Clearwater Project sets us up for success socially and economically for the long term. This Partnership builds opportunity for businesses and takes advantage of Montana’s booming outdoor economy. We are very thankful for Senator Tester’s involvement,” said A. Lee Boman, Council President of the Montana Wilderness Association.

“The Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Project sets aside habitat for elk, deer, bears, and mountain goats that help support my business. I want to thank Senator Tester for his commitment to Montana’s outdoor economy,” said Smoke Elser, an outfitter from Missoula.

“The Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Project reflects the natural resource diversity in our backyard. From the loggers to the snowmobilers and anglers, all the businesses in the region need our diverse natural resources to succeed. This Project recognizes that and will strengthen Montana’s economy,” said Addrien Marx, a Seeley Lake businesswoman.

The Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Project was originally a part of Tester’s landmark Forest Jobs and Recreation Act–a bill that received broad support from timber workers, conservationists, and outdoor enthusiasts across Montana, but never received support from Montana’s member of the House of Representatives.