When a group of loggers, hikers, snowmobilers, ranchers and local businessmen came together 10 years ago they all had different goals with the same aim. They had lived in the area around Seeley and Ovando and loved the natural wilderness. However, these are not groups that usually get along and agree on wilderness legislation. They did, however, all see the importance of the land.
Eleven years ago these concerned people met together. They are all different members of a similar community. They have different interests or goals for public lands. The unique part of this amalgamation of people is that they were able to come together and see across the table. To speak civilly with one another and come to a compromise about what to do with this pristine landscape that worked for all of them. After many meetings and continued communication, the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Project (BCSP) was formed.
The BCSP has already had many important impacts on the area. It has not only been able to protect a large swath of land for fishing, hiking and other recreation, but it has brought in a significant amount of income. Its created almost 150 jobs, trail work and noxious weed spraying included, funded from $19 million of federal funding and overall of $33 million.
As you can see, this is not only an important area for the local community, but for all of those who use this area to recreate. The BCSP exemplifies the ideals of community, communication, compromise and a need to balance the way that we use our public lands in a sustainable manner. Our congressional delegation needs to acknowledge that Montanans support the BCSP and they need to act on that support by taking the proposal to D.C. and stewarding it through Congress to the president’s desk. It is important to Montanans.
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