Tester Secures Senate Vote, Pushes Public Lands Package One Step Closer to Finish Line

Package includes Senator’s signature bills to reauthorize LWCF, protect the Paradise Valley

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester today secured a Senate vote on a public lands package that includes two of his landmark pieces of legislation: The Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act and a bill to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

“Montana’s public lands are the heart of our outdoor way of life and the backbone of our outdoor economy,” Tester said.“This package includes two made-in-Montana solutions to protect the doorstep of Yellowstone Park and expand public access to our public lands. I’ve spent years working to push these bills across the finish line because they’ll strengthen opportunities for folks to hunt, hike, float, and fish Montana’s treasured outdoor places for generations to come.”

Tester pushed to include two-Montana specific provisions in the Senate’s public lands package:

The Land and Water Conservation Fund
The public lands package includes legislation to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which is the best tool Montanans have to increase public access to public lands. Over the last 50 years, LWCF has invested more than $540 million in Montana’s outdoor recreation economy—at no cost to taxpayers. Funding for LWCF comes from offshore oil and gas revenue, which is then reinvested in projects that preserve and increase access to our public lands. Tester has been one of LWCF’s most vocal advocates in the Senate, fighting to reauthorize the initiative since its expiration last September and holding the Administration accountable for its proposals to slash funding.   

The Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act
The public lands package also includes Tester’s landmark piece of legislation to prevent mining on the doorstep of Yellowstone National Park. After two mining companies announced plans to expand their operations near the park, locals approached Tester about coming up with plan to protect the region’s natural resources and growing outdoor economy. Over the next two years, Tester worked with residents and small-business owners to craft the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act. This bipartisan bill will permanently withdraw federal mineral rights on roughly 30,000 acres of public land in the Gallatin National Forest—adjacent to Yellowstone National Park—and prevent proposed mines from expanding onto unclaimed public land.

A timeline of the bill is as follows:

October 13, 2016
Tester tells the Obama Administration he’s crafting legislation to prevent mining on the doorstep of Yellowstone National Park.

November 21, 2016
Tester joins Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to announce two-year ban on mining in the Paradise Valley, reiterates his plan to introduce legislation.

January 10, 2017
Tester meets with Trump’s Interior Secretary nominee Ryan Zinke, specifically asks about his position on this issue.

April 25, 2017
Tester introduces the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act.

July 18, 2017
Tester secures Senate hearing for the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act.

July 26, 2017
Tester testifies at Senate hearing on behalf of his Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act.

December 14, 2017
Congressman Greg Gianforte introduces companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

March 28, 2018
Tester holds rally in support of the bill after Republicans refuse to include it in their end of year funding package.

June 28, 2018
Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act receives House hearing.

September 27, 2018
House Committee passes Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act.

October 2, 2018
Senate Committee passes Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act.

October 4, 2018
Tester calls on Secretary Zinke to implement Forest Service-recommended ban on mining outside Yellowstone National Park.

October 8, 2018
Tester on 20-year ban: “it’s only a temporary solution.”

December 18, 2018
Senator Steve Daines co-sponsors the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act.

December 20, 2018
Tester secures guarantee that the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act will receive a vote in early 2019.

January 8, 2019
Tester reintroduces the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act in the 116th Congress.