Senate Passes Tester Fix Cutting Red Tape for Public Access at Agriculture Research Service Facilities

Fort Keogh public access point has been closed since 2013

The U.S. Senate today passed a measure written by U.S. Senator Jon Tester that cuts bureaucratic red tape impeding public access to lands on Agriculture Research Service facilities like Fort Keogh in Miles City. The amendment was included in a Fiscal Year 2020 Appropriations Package, which passed the Senate by a vote of 84-9.

“Washington bureaucrats shouldn’t stand in the way of local ARS facilities providing public access to lands where folks have hunted and fished for decades,” said Tester. “My measure will allow facilities like Fort Keogh to work with local stakeholders to improve public access in a way that works best for the community and for the ARS.”

Montanans had long used a public access point at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Fort Keogh facility to access hunting, fishing, and recreational opportunities on the Lower Yellowstone River. However, due to vandalism to USDA property and subsequent bureaucratic delays around reopening the site, public access at the site has been closed since 2013.

Senator Tester’s measure eliminates the red tape within the USDA, helping clear the way for allowing public access at ARS facilities like Fort Keogh.

As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Tester has been a longtime advocate for Fort Keogh, and has repeatedly secured full funding for the facility despite attempts by the Trump Administration to close it.

Tester has also been a steadfast champion for public lands access. He has been the only member of Montana’s Congressional delegation who has consistently fought on behalf of reauthorizing and fulling funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is one the best conservation tools Montanans have to increase public access to public lands.

Text of Senator Tester’s amendment can be found HERE.