Bipartisan legislation has support of local residents, energy companies, local elected officials, and business and conservation communities
WHITE FISH, MT – Glacier National Park’s western edge is bordered by rushing whitewater, a Wild and Scenic river fringed by the tall pine forests of the North Fork Flathead River Valley. While travelers from around the world hike and camp their way through Glacier’s alpine heights, locals work and play in this important national forest borderland – biking, rafting, fishing and hunting. Cutting firewood and Christmas trees and logs for the mill. On Tuesday, Montana’s top Republican worked alongside his U.S. House colleagues to advance unanimous support for legislation that will protect these lands and the communities that rely on them for future generations.
Rep. Steve Daines (R-Mont) spoke Tuesday on behalf of the North Fork Watershed Protection Act during a meeting of the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee, which then approved the measure with unanimous consent. Rep. Daines has joined Montana’s entire Congressional delegation on behalf of the bipartisan legislation. This popular bill, which grew locally from the ground up, ensures Montana’s rural heritage and its economic future by protecting the North Fork Flathead River Valley from the permanent scars of strip mines and oil fields.
In successfully moving the bill through the House committee, Daines proved himself the latest in a long line of committed Glacier Park stewards that dates back more than a century. It is a rare and important piece of legislation, with support from local residents, business and conservation groups, major energy companies and elected officials from across the political spectrum. Rep. Daines noted during Tuesday’s hearing that the bill represents the first time in three decades that Montana’s entire delegation has unanimously backed public land conservation legislation.
“Rep. Daines absolutely recognizes the important role of Glacier National Park and the North Fork in our regional economy,” said Michael Jamison, Glacier program manager for the National Parks Conservation Association. “By introducing this legislation and working toward its passage, the Congressman has proved his commitment to championing local solutions to land-use issues. Now it’s up to Congress as a whole to protect this iconic place for those who live and visit here.”
The bill has been introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont) and Jon Tester (D-Mont). When passed, it will safeguard 400,000 acres of park-adjacent lands from future oil and gas leasing, forever protecting Glacier’s headwaters and downstream communities. The legislation costs taxpayers nothing, protects the engines driving the region’s economy, and honors all private property. It not only protects Glacier National Park, but also the municipal water supply for the city of Whitefish as well as commercial operations at destinations such as Whitefish Mountain Resort.
“The North Fork Watershed Protection Act is an important bill to Montana,” Rep. Daines said, “and I am proud to do everything I can to help it become law. This is the first time in 30 years the Montana delegation has supported lands legislation in a bipartisan, bicameral, unanimous way. I think Washington could take some pointers from how we work in Montana.”
“The full support of Montana’s Congressional delegation for the North Fork Watershed Protection Act not only protects our outdoor heritage, it also serves as proof that Montana’s most majestic landscapes provide a common touchstone for us all,” Jamison added. “Congress can learn from Montana’s leadership – here in the Big Sky country we know how to work together across borders to get important jobs done.”
Tuesday’s passage in the House Natural Resources Committee clears the way for the bill to be voted on by the full House of Representatives. In 2013, the bill passed through the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and awaits a vote by the full Senate.
About National Parks Conservation Association
Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than one million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.
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