Hunting on public lands in Montana is an awe-inspiring and idyllic experience on par with hunting anywhere in the world. The Blackfoot and Clearwater valleys are no exception. Sportswomen and men hold this area in the highest of regard for the elk and deer herds that thrive in this area.
It is the landscape to which I feel most connected. I harvested my first animal in the Blackfoot Valley. Walking the mountains in winds strong enough to lift the hat right off my head, I took a knee in the early afternoon and harvested a whitetail deer. It was an experience that changed my connection to nature, to wildlife, and to the state I call home. The Blackfoot and Clearwater valleys are where I go time and time again to hunt, to fish, and to find solitude, connection and adventure. The Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act (BCSA) will safeguard these experiences -- for me and so many others who loves this area.
Championed by Sen. Jon Tester, this legislation was developed through more than a decade of collaboration among Montanans, including ranchers, outfitters, landowners, hunters, conservation groups and more. It would permanently protect 80,000 acres of high-quality habitat, areas that our elk and mule deer depend on as prime summer range habitat. It would also permanently protect some of the highest quality native trout spawning tributaries in the Blackfoot watershed. Moreover, it would help catalyze important restoration work and create new opportunities for recreation on our national forest lands, including mountain biking and snowmobiling.
There’s no doubt that Montanans place a high value on our wild public lands and the unparalleled opportunities they provide for us to hunt, fish and recreate. Eighty percent of sportswomen and men support the BCSA, along with over 160 businesses, organizations and other entities. We see that value in the sheer number of hunters who flock to the Blackfoot and Clearwater valleys to pursue their wild game of choice. With record-breaking numbers of people recreating on public lands in these valleys, we are now at a critical point where we must conserve the fish and wildlife habitat that makes this area so special and beloved. We need this bill now more than ever.
Join me in calling Sen. Steve Daines and Congressman Matt Rosendale and asking them to join hunters and anglers in support of this important legislation to protect our sporting traditions for generations to come.
To learn more about the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act, visit www.blackfootclearwater.org.
Marcia Brownlee is the Program Manager for Artemis Sportswomen. She lives in Missoula.