In February 2017, Sanator Jon Tester announced the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act which will protect 79,000 acres of public land, develop a comprehensive trail plan with access to the Lolo National Forest, open 2,200 acres to snowmobiling, and protect access to 3,800 acres of mounatin biking. The bill is the result of over ten years of collaboration between timber industry, sportsmen and women, ranchers and business owners.
For the past decade, Montanans have worked together to hash out a lasting solution for our public lands in the Blackfoot-Clearwater valley. Timber industry reps, snowmobilers, outfitters and guides, and conservationists have collaborated to create a legislative proposal for a landscape-style approach to balancing the needs of timber and restoration, recreation and conservation in the Seeley and Ovando areas in the Southern Crown of the Continent. The project ensures public lands access, timber production, and protection of important headwaters.
The timber and restoration portions of the plan are already underway, restoring streams and treating for noxious weeds, while giving a great boost to the local economy. The project has helped create or maintain an average of 138 jobs and has brought $19 million in federal investments and led to overall investment of $33 million in local economy, resulting in 46,222 acres treated for noxious weeds, 130 miles of stream restoration, and 2,000 miles of multiple use trails maintained.
The recreation and conservation programs have yet to be realized and require legislative action with the help of Montana senators and representatives to get it done. The plan would ensure continued opportunities for world-class recreation, safeguard places to hunt and fish, and add 83,000 acres to the Bob Marshall, Scapegoat and Mission Mountains Wilderness areas to protect high-quality wildlife habitat, clean water, and recreational opportunities for the future.