MISSOULA – Calling for supporters, including Montana’s Congressional delegation, to be more “aggressive”, Sen. Jon Tester will re-introduce the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act.
It was just over two years ago that Tester had introduced the legislation, which aims to set aside new wilderness in the Upper Blackfoot Basin and also creating a plan for multi-use, protecting public access for everything from snowmobiling to mountain bikes and resource management.
That first version did manage to get a hearing before a Senate committee last year, but wasn’t able to finish the process.
On Friday, Tester was joined by dozens of supporters of the act at Kettlehouse Brewing along the banks of the river, hoping to rally support for the re-introduced bill. Tester noted 73 percent of Montanans support the idea. He says more action is needed, including letter writing to convince Senator Daines, Representative Greg Gianforte and Governor Bullock to be “more aggressive”. He believes that’s needed since it’s been hard to attach the idea to other bills.
“Bottom line is this is stand-alone. It has timber cut in it. It has recreation opportunities in it and it has wilderness opportunities. And it’s really time that Congress steps up and listens to what’s going on on the ground, understands what can happen in the future if we don’t do this.”
With the pace of accelerating development in Montana, Tester worries the chance to protect the Blackfoot lands will disappear entirely within the next 10 years.
Reporting by Dennis Bragg for MTN News