WASHINGTON, D.C. — US Senator Jon Tester is hoping the third time is the charm for the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act, as he re-introduces legislation this week that will bring a package of community-developed management tools to the Upper Blackfoot Watershed.
Buoyed by the continued support of a broad coalition of landowners, business people, conservationists and user groups, Sen. Tester is ready to try again for approval of the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act (BCSA)
Last fall, the idea for a mix of new wilderness, timber harvest, trails and conservation measures made it to a committee hearing but stalled. Sen. Tester hopes the new bill will make it that far by summer, and further
"I'm hoping that it will be a non-political hearing. That we can take this bill for what it is, which is basically three legs of the stool that includes jobs, recreation and conservation in this region around Seeley-Swan."
Sen. Tester told MTN News he still believes there's a better chance of getting the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act approved if the rest of the state's Congressional delegation shows strong support.
"Senator Daines sits on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. And I'm hopeful that Senator Daines will support this this time," Sen. Tester said from his office in Washington late last week. "73% of Montanans think this is a good idea. It's a bill that was built on the ground, by Montanans."
While the pandemic prevents the large gathering that kicked off the first two attempts on BCSA, he says the issues at play are as important as ever. We asked Sen. Tester what he would like to say to those folks who have been with him since the start on this, and how they can play a role?
"Well, stay fired up. Keep pushing. Keep pushing locally. Keep pushing at the federal level too. Keep informing people and educating people on what this bill does. It's a lot of work to get legislation done," Sen. Tester said.
"Very seldom do you get it done on the first crack. But the bottom line is if people in Montana keep pushing, if we keep communicating with our policymakers I think there's a real shot to get this done in this Congress," he added.
Sen. Tester says if the BCSA can make it to the Senate floor it could pass, added as an amendment to another bill.
“Senator Daines will continue to engage with stakeholders on the issue and he's appreciative of the work put in by all involved," says a statement sent to MTN News. "The senator is trying to find a path forward to ensure a well-balanced solution that works for all, however, we don’t yet have the necessary consensus.”