In a joint press conference on Wednesday, Senators Jon Tester, John Walsh and Senator-elect Steve Daines announced a landmark legislative package that includes eight Montana-based lands and resources bills.

“This is a historic day for Montana’s treasured lands,” Tester said.  “Our state is The Last Best Place because of our special places to hunt, fish and recreate, and by responsibly ensuring future generations can enjoy the Rocky Mountain Front and the North Fork, we preserve our outdoor heritage and traditions while strengthening our outdoor economy.  I was proud to fight for these bills and get them included in this package.”

“Today’s breakthrough proves that grassroots government can still lead to lasting results,” Walsh said.  “Our Congressional Delegation took a page from our fellow Montanans who came together to craft these bills.  These bills are important to our outdoor heritage and way of life, and I’m proud that we were able to carry on Montana’s century-long legacy of stewardship in the North Fork and the Rocky Mountain Front.”

“In Montana, we know the importance of rolling up our sleeves and working together to get things done.  By coming together and finding common ground, Senators Tester and Walsh and I are advancing eight bipartisan lands and resources bills that together address the concerns of Montanans from across our state—from ranchers and sportsmen to our tribes and natural resource industry,” Daines stated.  “I’m proud that we’re taking historic steps today to protect some of our state’s greatest treasures, expand the responsible development of Montana’s energy resources, and expand and protect access to our public lands for generations to come.”

The package includes:

North Fork Watershed Protection Act

Permanently protects the American side of the North Fork of the Flathead River Watershed by barring future mining or drilling on the affected 430,000 acres which lie adjacent to Glacier National Park.

Northern Cheyenne Lands Act

Restores to theNorthern Cheyennetribe the mineral rights to 5,000 acres containing coal deposits within their Tribal boundary and strengthens the tribe’s control over its land base, natural resources and trust funds.  Restoring these rights corrects a federal error made over 100 years ago.

Cabin Fee Act

Provides certainty for about 700 Montana cabin owners on Forest Service land by establishing a fair and predictable system for setting cabin fees.

East Bench Irrigation District Act

Authorizes the Interior Department to extend the water contract between the U.S.and the East Bench Irrigation District for six more years.

Bureau of Reclamation Conduit Hydropower Development Equity and Jobs Act

Removes outdated federal statutes that currently prevent irrigation districts in Montana and other western states from developing hydropower on Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) canals, ditches, and conduits—four of which are in Montana.

BLM Permit Processing Improvement Act

Preserves the Miles City BLM field office by making permanent a successful pilot project originally authorized in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 which improves efficiencies for permitting oil and gas development by the Bureau of Land Management.

Grazing Improvement Act

Provides Montana ranchers greater certainty by extending the life of grazing permits on federal lands from 10 to 20 years and allowing grazing permits to be renewed while National Environmental Policy Act review is underway.

 Audio From Congressional Delegation

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