Corey Ellis

Last month, Senator Tester’s Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act passed out of committee. The product of more than a decade, the BCSA enjoys the support of the majority (84%!) of Montanans. It’s the collaborative approach to land management we want to see.

The bill designates nearly 80,000 acres of wilderness, protects the headwaters of the Blackfoot and Clearwater Rivers, some of the world's most iconic trout streams, and ensures that some premier big game country remains wild.

Where appropriate, it would also continue to allow timber harvests, long an economic cornerstone of nearby communities like Ovando and Seeley. Additionally, thousands of acres would be opened and managed for snowmobiling and mountain biking, another boon to nearby communities.

Now we just need Senator Daines to get behind this. Unfortunately, Daines wants his own bill - which would strip protections of 100,000 acres of unrelated public lands - to hitch a ride with the popularity of the BCSA.

If Daines’ bill merits the same support BCSA has, he should pass that as a standalone bill. But Daines should refrain from using something that 8 in 10 Montanans want as a bargaining chip for something he hasn’t hosted a single public meeting about.