Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Big Game, Big Country and a step forward for all Montanans

Tomorrow, the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee will be voting on the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act. This is a piece of legislation we've supported for a number of years, even giving input on how to make the bill better for hunters & anglers. Sponsored by Senator Max Baucus, the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act is moving forward with a key vote coming up tomorrow in the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee. Here's what Max had to say about the vote tomorrow in a press release:

A key Senate panel is scheduled to vote on the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act on Thursday November 21st, 2013 at 7:30AM MST.  The outcome of Thursday’s hearing is an important step toward moving the bill to the finish line, which Baucus has named as one of his top priorities as he finishes out his final term in office which ends January 2015. The Heritage Act is a Montana-made bill built from the ground up by a wide variety of Montanans working together since 2007 on a cooperative effort to protect the Front, while protecting grazing opportunities for ranchers and public access for hunters, fisherman, and outdoor enthusiasts. In 2011, Baucussponsored the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act after attending public listening sessions across the state.

The Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act:·         Protects public access for hunters, fishermen and outdoor enthusiasts
·         Designates 208,000 acres as a Conservation Management Area, a home-grown designation which would limit road building but protect current motorized recreation and public access for hunting, biking, timber thinning and grazing.
·         Prioritizes noxious weed eradication and prevention on the designated public lands which in turns helps protect adjacent private working lands.
·         Designates 67,000 acres of the Rocky Mountain Front as additions to the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex.
·         Allows for continued grazing access for Montana ranching families
·         It will not impact current mineral leasing in Teton and Pondera Counties.
·         It will not stop Montanans from benefiting from producing oil and gas on their land.

What Max didn't say is this: The Heritage Act will continue a 100 year long tradition of ensuring wildlife will always have a place on the Rocky Mountain Front. In 1913, the Montana State Legislature established the Sun River Game Preserve. That started a 100 year conservation effort to do one thing: Keep the Front the way it is. Ranchers, farmers, hunters and conservationists of all stripes have fought together to make sure the Front retains the same characteristics as when Lewis & Clark first came though. With the exception of wild bison, all species of animals that roamed the Front are still there through the efforts of everyone who works, lives & plays along the Rocky Mountain Front.

Conservation efforts of Ranchers have lead to the protection of both critical winter range and family ag operations. Efforts of hunters have led to the establishment of the Sun River, Blackleaf & Ear Mountain Wildlife Management Areas. Efforts from hunters, environmentalists & Ranchers have led to the protection of the Front from poorly thought out mineral leasing & development.

We're proud to be on the long list of sporting clubs and organizations who support the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act. It's long past time to put this piece of the puzzle into place and protect the Front!

Thanks Max, for taking this on. We know it's not been easy, but the reward will be worth it. Future generations remember the actions taken to protect what we hold dearest, and dear to our hearts is the Rocky Mountain Front.

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