Tester sponsors bill to create federal advisory committee on public access

Sen. Jon Tester’s new federal advisory group would issue recommendations on public access issues to the Interior Department. (Last Best News photo)

Montana Sen. Jon Tester announced Tuesday that he is sponsoring legislation to create an Outdoor Recreation Advisory Committee in the U.S. Department of Interior to advise the Trump administration on ways to increase public access to public lands.

The Outdoor Economy Act’s advisory committee will prepare a biannual report with recommendations on how to increase public access to public lands, address maintenance needs that impact recreational opportunities, reduce barriers for underserved communities to engage in outdoor recreation, promote new and existing service opportunities on public lands, and identify ways for the outdoor recreation community to assist in curtailing the spread of invasive species.

In addition to members from the Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation, and Army Corps of Engineers, the Committee will include one member representing each of the following groups, appointed jointly by the Departments of Interior and Agriculture:

  • State fish and wildlife agencies
  • Tribal governments
  • Hunting organizations
  • Fishing organizations
  • Motorized recreation organizations
  • Horsemen organizations
  • Human-powered transportation organizations
  • Veterans service organizations
  • Organizations that provide education or outreach to encourage youth participation in the outdoors/

“Montana hunters, anglers, business owners and outdoor enthusiasts know how important our public lands are,” said Tester. “By bringing these folks to the table in Washington, we can ensure that future generations will be able to access the treasured places that are driving our economy and creating jobs.”
The senator announced the legislation Tuesday night in Columbia Falls, where he joined several conservation groups in sponsoring the Last Best Outdoors Fest.

Tester’s Outdoor Economy Act is available online here.