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Home Wild Word The Economic Importance of the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act
Pine Creek Lake. Photo by Walker Stole
Aug 18 2020

The Economic Importance of the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act

A newly-released report highlights how the BCSA will help sustain outdoor recreation economy

Wednesday, Aug. 12 the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Project released a report that highlights how the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act will protect the public lands and water on which Montana’s outdoor recreation economy depends. 

On a teleconference announcing the release of the report, several business leaders from around the state – representing Business for Montana’s Outdoors, Oboz Footwear, The Trail Head, and Montana Trout Outfitters – testified to how vital it is for Montana’s outdoor recreation economy that the Blackfoot River remain healthy. 

“A clean Blackfoot River is the cornerstone of our business,” Trail Head owner Todd Frank said. “It’s the reason people want to be in the Missoula area. And we’ve spent a decade trying to get this in front of Congress.”

The BCSA would help ensure the good health of the Blackfoot and its trout populations by permanently protecting the Blackfoot’s four most important tributaries – the North Fork, Monture Creek, Morrell Creek, and West Fork of the Clearwater. 

“With the North Fork of the Blackfoot and Monture Creek being such critical spawning areas for cutthroat and bull trout, it makes sense to permanently protect those areas,” said Tony Reinhardt, owner of Montana Trout Outfitters. 

The economic report shows that a healthy Blackfoot River has generated well over 9,000 guided outfitter days in 2018 and contributed to the $1 billion that angling generated and $400 million that hunting generated in Montana in 2017.

The BCSA would also create new opportunities for mountain biking and snowmobiling.

The day before the release of the economic report, Sen. Jon Tester sent a letter to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee requesting a hearing of the BCSA.

“Now that Congress has passed the Great American Outdoors Act, it’s critical for us to continue moving the ball forward on collaborative proposals to improve access to our public lands,” Tester’s letter stated. “We need to back up our significant financial investment in our public lands with smart, collaborative management proposals for those lands.” 

As Tester stated, now is the time for the BCSA. This collaboratively developed bill has been over a decade in the making, and its passage would contribute to the outdoor recreation economy, which has infused a healthy $7 billion dollars per year to our state in recent years. The recovery of the outdoor recreation economy can be an important part of our state’s overall recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The BCSA’s progress is dependent on support from Sen. Steve Daines, who is on the SENR committee. 

Join us in sending a clear message to Daines that the time for the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act is now. Send the senator a digital postcard or make a call to his office.

By asking Daines for his support you’ll be joining outfitters, guides, timber industry representatives, mountain bikers, hikers, backpackers, wildlife enthusiasts, and 75% of Montanans in expressing support for the BCSA.

Before you call, take a few minutes to enjoy the BCSA’s economic report. 

Protecting the future health of the Blackfoot River, and of our communities, is a no brainer. Let’s get the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act passed. 

Erin Clark
Western Montana Field Director

Erin builds community support for the protection of western Montana's wild mountains and valleys, from the Bob Marshall to the Bitterroot to the Great Burn. She's a lifelong winter seeker and skier. When snow is hard to come by, she enjoys trail running and botanizing.
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