Daines, business groups celebrate conservation bill clearing U.S. Senate

Posted at 3:35 PM, Feb 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-20 18:14:59-05

EMIGRANT – Single-digit temperatures could not bring a chill to a gathering at a fishing access site in the Paradise Valley Tuesday morning.

The U.S. Senate recently gave permanent authorization for the Land Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which helps hundreds of public land sites around the state.

Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) was joined by a group of area business leaders as they talked about that vote and looked to the future of LWCF in the Treasure State.

Standing with members of the Yellowstone Gateway Business Community (YGBC)—a group that helped keep mining out of an area not far from this gathering and on the border of Yellowstone—Senator Daines noted the bipartisan effort to achieve permanent authorization for the LWCF, which helped establish this location and so many others around Montana.

“The Montana team came together to make this possible in the U.S. Senate, and now we’re focused on getting this across the finish line in the U.S. House,” Daines said.

“We all set aside our political differences and decided to focus on preserving this area and our jobs. And we asked our delegation to do the same and you delivered, and we really thank you for that,” said YGBC member Bryan Wells of Emigrant Creek Cabins.

LWCF is now in the hands of the U.S. House, but those gathered along the Yellowstone recognize the significance of the vote in the Senate.

“As I reflect on it, I think if you enjoy hunting and fishing and recreating on public lands, this is the most significant legislation to come out of the Senate in over a decade, and I just congratulate you and thank you and hope we get this through the House swiftly,” said Simms Fishing Products President K.C. Walsh.

Colin Davis, owner of Chico Hot Springs, added, “Whether you fish or not, this river is lifeblood too. We all float it, raise our children on it. It just feels great to know it’s—the words ‘permanent protection’—it’s hard to fathom. It’s big.”

Senator Daines noted how widespread LWCF is in the Treasure State. But he also made a point of noting that it’s more than just fishing access sites like the Emigrant site where the press conference was held Tuesday. He referenced a location in the heart of Livingston: Sacajawea Park, a longtime recipient of LWCF.

The permanent reauthorization means LWCF becomes part of the federal appropriations process, and that is good news for Montana.

“That means every year we’ll be going through the appropriations process,” Daines said. “The good news for Montana is that both of Montana’s senators sit on the Appropriations Committee. That’s pretty unique.”

Senator Daines also said he hopes the 92-8 vote for the LWCF in the Senate will be a spark for the House to do the same.

Reporting by Chet Layman for MTN News