Regardless of political party affiliation or belief, Montana citizens are unique in that we are all committed to a uniting idea: That protecting wildlands is essential to both preserving our way of life and our state’s nature. Turning this commitment into a potential reality, Sen. Jon Tester introduced the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act (BCSA), a piece of federal legislation that would both bolster the protections of nearly 80,000 acres, deeming them to be utilized for conservation and wildlife management, while simultaneously increasing social and economic benefit that citizens would receive should the bill succeed.
Should the BCSA be passed into law by Congress, land surrounding the Blackfoot and its four tributaries would receive permanent protection, along with the designation of two expansive new public recreation zones designated for snowmobiling, hiking, and biking. With Montana receiving $7 billion annually from outdoor recreation, and a shared $1.4 billion generated from hunting and fishing in 2017, the rationale behind supporting public lands and preserving the outdoors is clear. Because of these benefits, more than 75% of Montana citizens support the passage of the BCSA, which features a coalition of hunters, anglers, outfitters, timber companies, and ranchers who stand in support of the bill.
Recently, Sen. Steve Daines stood in opposition to the idea of protecting Montana lands, suggesting that for public land protections to be strengthened, it would first require 300,000 separate acres to be delisted as wilderness and lose protection. This “removed from reality” approach to land conservation features the support of only 8% of Montanans, and so Steve Daines needs to recognize as he put it, “a balanced product that Montanan’s can get behind,” and stand with the majority of Montanan’s in supporting the passage of the BCSA and the further protection of public lands.
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