Tester’s Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act Receives Boost in Senate Hearing

Senator calls for swift Committee vote on his made-in-Montana legislation

U.S. Senator Jon Tester’s made-in-Montana legislation, the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act, received a big boost when the U.S. Forest Service signaled it would work to achieve the goals of this collaborative proposal during a hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

“The Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act is the result of more than a decade of collaboration from local stakeholders who know what’s best for their communities and how to best manage their public lands,” said Tester. “I’m glad the Forest Service committed to keep working with me to find a path forward on this bill, and now it’s time for the Senate to take its lead from the three out of four Montanans who support this made-in-Montana legislation and vote the BCSA out of Committee.”

In the wake of the successful public lands investments secured through the passage of the bipartisan Great American Outdoors Act, Tester wrote to Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee leaders, urging his colleagues to hold a hearing on the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act. He argued that the BSCA is commonsense legislation that provides a “natural next step” to the billions in public lands investments, outlining the collaborative land management necessary to protect thousands of acres of public land while strengthening Montana’s outdoor economy.

Here’s what Montanans are saying about Tester’s Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act:

“What I’m most proud of with the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act is the process we took to get here,” said rancher Jim Stone. “Ranchers, timber mills, business owners, wilderness advocates and recreationalists of all varieties really came to the table and focused on what we could agree upon. A big thank you goes to Senator Tester for taking our proposal to Washington, D.C., and continuing to push for it to become law. I’m sure looking forward to riding the northeast bowls in the Otatsy on my snowmobile!”

“Folks think a mountain biker might not have much in common with loggers, outfitters and snowmobilers,” said Ben Horan, MTB Missoula Executive Director. “Turns out, we sure do. I’m proud to represent mountain bikers and work shoulder to shoulder with a wide variety of interest groups to increase recreational access to Montana’s backyard through support of the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act. I encourage our Montana delegation to follow suit, and work together to pass a bill that 75% of Montana’s support.”

“The Blackfoot River and surrounding landscape provides unparalleled opportunities to hunt, fish and recreate outdoors,” said Alec Underwood, Federal Conservation Campaigns Director with the Montana Wildlife Federation. “The BCSA will not only protect outdoor recreation, it will protect our local economies while helping keep Montana the Last Best Place. We thank Senator Tester for his steadfast commitment to protecting our outdoor heritage and we urge our congressional delegation to get this legislation done for Montanans.”

“Our family-owned mill is proud to be with the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Project from the beginning,” said Gordy Sanders, Chief Contract Manager for Pyramid Mountain Lumber. “The Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act reflects our values of being good stewards to the land, and working together with broad partners to get more accomplished. We are looking forward to the entire Montana delegation working together to see the BCSA across the finish line.”

“With the addition of 80,000 acres to the Scapegoat, Mission Mountain, and Bob Marshall Wilderness Areas, we can ensure permanent protections to the headwaters streams that feed the storied Blackfoot River as well as Grizzly Basin – one of the wildest places we have left in Montana,” said Jordan Reeves, Conservation Program Manager for The Wilderness Society “Now is the time for Senator Daines to join Senator Tester and show his support for the BCSA, a grassroots bill that over 75% of Montanans support. The time is now to get this done.”

“For nearly two decades, the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Project has brought together wilderness advocates, snowmobilers, foresters and mill operators, business owners, outfitters, guides, and other community members to secure the future of this unique place,” said Erin Clark, Field Director for Montana Wilderness Association. “The Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act is a durable legislative solution that honors this commitment to collaboration. We thank Sen. Tester for championing the BCSA, and we urge the rest of Montana’s delegation to join him in supporting this crucial piece of public lands legislation.”

“The Blackfoot and Clearwater valleys hold special places where generations of Montanans have escaped to on weekends and holidays to camp, fish, float, snowmobile, and ski with families and friends,” said Becky Edwards, Executive Director of the Mountain Mamas. “We applaud Sen. Tester’s efforts to permanently protect Montana’s backyard to ensure our rivers stay clear, our forests stay healthy, and our economy stays strong. Montana women and families urge our entire delegation to pass the BCSA.”

“There’s a reason 80 percent of sportsmen and women support this bill. Clean water, wild landscapes, healthy habitat and multiple use – the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act has it all,” said Kevin Farron, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers’ Montana Chapter Coordinator. “The prime hunting, fishing and recreational opportunities found in the Blackfoot corridor and permanently protected by this bill will continue to fuel local outdoor economies long into the future. Senator Tester is once again proving that he’s a champion for public lands, hunters and anglers. We strongly encourage Senator Daines to stand with Montana public land owners by supporting this legislation.”

The result of a collective effort between ranchers, recreationists, loggers, mountain bikers, and business owners, Tester’s BCSA is a multi-use proposal that would protect thousands of acres of public land, ensure future generations can access outdoor recreational opportunities, and strengthen Montana’s outdoor economy in the Blackfoot River Watershed.

Specifically, the bill would protect 79,060 acres of wildlife habitat in the Bob Marshall, Mission Mountains, and Scapegoat Wilderness Areas, open 2,013 acres of currently closed land to snowmobiling, and protect 3,835 acres for mountain biking and hiking. It would also require the Forest Service to prioritize its review of future recreational trail proposals from the collaborative group, and to conduct a forest health assessment that will help identify new timber projects on the landscape.

Tester first introduced the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act at the request of the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Project with the support of the local timber industry.