LETTER: Montana BHA Supports the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act (S. 2149)

July 21, 2023

The Honorable Joe Manchin
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee
306 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable John Barrasso
Ranking Member
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee
307 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510


Dear Chairman Manchin and Ranking Member Barrasso:

On behalf of our roughly 3,000 dues-paying Montana members, the Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers would like to offer our full and enthusiastic support for the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act (S. 2149) and thank you for including it in the July 12th hearing held by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining. We applaud the collaborative process by which this bill was created, and as an organization dedicated to maintaining fish and wildlife habitat, hunting and fishing opportunities and public access, we can certainly endorse the outcome.

S. 2149, or the BCSA, is the product of more than a decade of local collaboration by a variety of stakeholder groups in Montana including sportsmen and women, ranchers, outfitters, mountain bikers, timber industry professionals, snowmobilers, and business owners. This broadly supported approach to managing our public lands and waters benefits local ommunities and economies and is representative of the successful partnership that has been a part of the Blackfoot and Seeley/Swan Valleys for decades. It's the Montana way of doing things. 

The three components of the BCSA – timber/restoration, recreation, and conservation – would mean expedited forest management, the creation of recreation areas for mountain biking and snowmobiling, and the protection of roughly 80,000 acres of essential fish and wildlife habitat. There’s something for everyone and it’s no surprise that this legislation is supported by 84 percent of Montanans.

The carefully selected wilderness designations in this bill would provide crucial habitat security for a variety of wildlife including elk, deer, black bear and many others, and is why sportsmen and women support it. The protected watersheds would help ensure cold, clean flowing streams and tributaries on which downstream communities and native fish – such as cutthroat and bull trout – depend, which is why anglers want to see this signed into law.

Additionally, the BCSA would provide an economic boost for the rural communities of the upper Blackfoot and Clearwater areas, including Seeley Lake and Ovando. The added and protected year-round recreational opportunities – both motorized and non-motorized alike – would increase visitor spending, and the additional timber harvests would support the local economies even further.

There’s little question why the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act is championed by many diverse and local voices: it's a win for the economy, maintains healthy habitat and clean water, and improves backcountry hunting and fishing opportunities, all things our Montana members care deeply about.

With your support, we look forward to working to pass this legislation into law.



John B. Sullivan III, Chairman
Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers
Cc: Sens. Jon Tester and Steve Daines

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