Tester’s Historic Blackfoot-Clearwater Stewardship Act Passes Committee, Sets up Full Senate Vote

Senator’s bill to create jobs, protect public lands supported by 83% of Montanans

Following years of work and collaboration between Montana ranchers, recreationists, loggers, mountain bikers, and business owners to craft his widely supported bill, U.S. Senator Jon Tester’s Blackfoot-Clearwater Stewardship Act (BCSA) today passed through the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources – setting up the legislation for a full Senate vote.

Tester’s legislation, which is supported by 83% of Montanans, would create jobs, protect thousands of acres of public land, and ensure future generations can access the world-class outdoor recreational opportunities available in the Blackfoot River Watershed.

“Montanans rely on our public lands to make memories with their families and to create good paying jobs that support our $7.1 billion outdoor economy – and passing my Blackfoot-Clearwater Stewardship Act will ensure that we can do both for generations to come,” said Tester.“This made-in-Montana solution is the result of collaboration between ranchers and loggers, hikers and bikers, and conservationists alike, and is widely supported by the majority of Montanans. Today’s news is a great step forward for Montana, and it’s time for my colleagues to quit playing politics so that we can continue creating jobs and protecting our public lands by getting this bill signed into law.”

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.

“The Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act protects our freedom to recreate in the places we love, and we’re grateful for Senator Tester for moving the bill forward in the Senate,” said Jack Rich, owner of Rich’s Montana Guest Ranch in Seeley Lake. “With all the growth and expansion we’re seeing, we need our wild places and open spaces now more than ever. Today’s hearing is a historic step towards ensuring that our lands will be managed not just for us, but for generations yet unborn to enjoy and appreciate America’s great outdoors.”

“The BCSA is a realistic compromise that’s been led by the loggers, snowmobilers, outfitters, ranchers, mountain bikers, and business owners who know this area,” added Gordy Sanders, resource manager at Pyramid Mountain Lumber. “We appreciate Senator Tester’s leadership on the issue, now it’s time for our congressional folks to work together and find the path forward across the finish line.” 

“Montana business owners are united around our outdoors, which is the reason many start, expand, or bring a business into the state,” said Marne Hayes, director of Businesses for Montana’s Outdoors. “Clean water, healthy wildlands, and recreational access are key elements of many businesses’ success, and the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act is the best chance we have to protect those elements for the future. We thank Senator Tester for introducing this community-built legislation that protects our outdoor assets and provides security to Montana’s businesses and communities.

“We’d like to thank Sen. Tester for his continued leadership and commitment to protecting the public land resources that make this part of Montana special,” said Smoke Elser, a longtime outfitter in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. “Passing the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act is the best chance we have to protect our land and water from the threat of development, and it’s time for Congress to follow the committee’s lead and get this bill on the president’s desk.”

“We can’t thank Sen. Tester enough for championing the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act,” said Zach Angstead, federal legislative director at Wild Montana. “This is a bill made for Montanans by Montanans, protecting the public lands and waters that represent what we love most about the state, which is precisely why it garners overwhelming support from folks across the political spectrum. The time is now for the Blackfoot, and for securing it for all of the fish, wildlife, and people that depend on it remaining healthy forever.”

Tester’s bill is endorsed by:

  • The Lewis & Clark County Commission
  • The Missoula County Commission
  • The Powell County Commission
  • Pyramid Mountain Lumber
  • MTB Missoula
  • Wild Montana
  • Montana Wildlife Federation
  • The Wilderness Society
  • Business for Montana’s Outdoors
  • MT Backcountry Hunters and Anglers
  • MT Trout Unlimited
  • Teddy Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
  • Dozens of outfitters, guides, and small businesses
  • And additional stakeholders across Montana

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 in 2017.

Text of Tester’s Blackfoot-Clearwater Stewardship Act is available HERE.


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