Tester’s Landmark Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act, LWCF Reauthorization Signed into Law

Senator calls out President’s budget that cuts LWCF by more than 98 percent one day before signing permanent reauthorization bill

(U.S. Senate)-President Donald Trump today signed U.S. Senator Jon Tester’s bill to permanently protect the gateway to Yellowstone National Park and reauthorize the popular Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

“Today marks a victory for all of the Montanans who value our public lands and the businesses that rely on our growing outdoor economy,” Tester said. “This bill – which is now the law of the land – is further proof that when folks speak up and work together, we can change our state for the better.”

The Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act will permanently withdraw federal mineral rights on roughly 30,000 acres of the Gallatin National Forest and prevent proposed mines from expanding onto unclaimed public land adjacent to the Park. Tester worked with a coalition of local residents and small-business owners to craft and introduce the bill after a pair of mining companies announced plans to explore the option for mining around the Paradise Valley back in 2015. He was the only Senate sponsor of this legislation for nearly 20 months before securing additional support. A timeline of Tester’s work on the bill is available HERE.

Today’s bill also includes permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Funded through offshore oil and gas development revenue, LWCF has invested more than $540 million to support Montana’s outdoor recreation economy since it was established in 1965. Tester is the only member of Montana’s Congressional delegation who has consistently fought to reauthorize and fully fund the popular initiative that Montanans use to increase public access to public lands.

On Monday, Trump released a proposed budget that cut funding for LWCF by more than 98%. Tester used the President’s signing ceremony to call on the Administration to reverse the cuts and stop undermining this successful conservation initiative.

“It is easy to understand why folks hate Washington when politicians cheer on the President as he signs a bill to authorize LWCF just one day after trying to gut its funding,” Tester added. “I hope the President’s cheerleaders put money where their mouth is and fully fund this critical conservation initiative.”

LWCF is currently authorized to receive up to $900 million annually. This is the second year in a row that the President has attempted to cut funding for LWCF by more than $400 million.