Today, our elected federal officials worked together to ensure that our children and our children’s children have spaces to fish, hunt and camp in some of the most scenic places in Montana. Senators Tester and Walsh and Representative Daines worked cooperatively together to pass the North Fork Watershed Protection Act, as well as the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act.
The North Fork Watershed Protection Act ensures that the North Fork of the Flathead River, one of the few remaining bull trout fisheries, will be protected from future oil and gas leasing near Glacier National Park. The Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act is a made-in-Montana bill, which will protect one of the last best places to hunt, fish and watch wildlife through additions to the Bob Marshall Wilderness and other designations.
“Our membership is pleased to see our elected officials working together to create policy that benefits all Montanans,” AFFTA president Ben Bulis stated. “The outdoor industry accounts for 64,000 jobs and $5.8 billion in Montana alone. We are encouraged to see our senators and congressman protecting one of our bright spots economically. It just makes good sense.” AFFTA members are comprised of fly fishing retailers, manufacturers, guides and outfitters whose livelihoods are directly tied to healthy fisheries, and access to them.
AFFTA board member and Montana businessman Jim Klug of Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures noted, “My waders will eventually need to be replaced, as well as my drift boat. However these lands and waters withstand the test of time. I’ll be able to take my sons and daughter fishing and camping on these lands for years to come. I can’t imagine a better Christmas present for all Montanans than that.”
There is still more work to be done nationally and here in Montana. AFFTA is a keen supporter of full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a successful program that will expire next September without reauthorization by Congress. The organization is also keeping a weather eye on the proposed Black Butte Mine and the potential adverse effects that project would have on the iconic Smith River. However Bulis stated these bills are a step in the right direction, “AFFTA wishes to express our sincere thanks to Sen Tester, Sen Walsh & Rep Daines for working together, and putting Montana first. Job well done.”