As expected, President Barack Obama signed the omnibus public lands bill Monday, which sets aside 2 million acres of wilderness. While Montana is not one of the nine states where wilderness is designated under the bill, it does include a couple of provisions sponsored by Democratic Sen. Jon Tester that will affect the state. Tester’s “Wolf Kill Bill” – which was cosponsored by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont. and Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo. – provides compensation to ranchers whose livestock is killed by wolves. The “Cooperative Watershed Management Act” is also attached to the bill, which Tester introduced with Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho. It offers grants to groups that agree to work together to better manage water habitat and “protects Montana’s prized fishing heritage.” Tester, in an e-mail:
“The Public Lands Bill will benefit all Montanans now and for generations to come. Most Republicans and Democrats understand that voting for this bipartisan bill was the right thing to do for America’s outdoor heritage, and for our kids and grandkids. As Vice Chairman of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, I believe strongly in preserving our outdoor way of life—whether it’s hunting, fishing, hiking or camping, or agriculture.”
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