Today, the United States Senate passed a landmark bipartisan public lands package championed by U.S. Senator Steve Daines. The public lands package includes permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), and the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act among other provisions important to conservation and public access to public lands.
“Today’s vote is a watershed moment for conservation and public lands across Montana and our entire country,” Daines said. “From permanent reauthorization of LWCF to permanent protection of Paradise Valley, I’m very pleased we passed this important package today in the Senate. I urge the House to act quickly so that we can get it onto the President’s desk for his signature.”
At the end of 2018, Daines received commitment from Senate Leadership that the package would be brought to the floor of the Senate early in the 116th Congress. On January 30, Daines urged Senate Leadership to bring it to the floor for a vote at the earliest opportunity. On February 7, Daines spoke on the Senate floor, urging his colleagues to pass the lands package. And earlier today, Daines spoke on the Senate floor on this important public lands package.
To read the bill text, click HERE.
Among several other wins, the public lands package:
- Permanently reauthorizes LWCF
- Includes the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act which protects the Paradise Valley and Gardiner Basin from development
- Includes the WILD Act which strengthens wildlife conservation by reauthorizing sportsmen’s wildlife conservation programs, assists in the management of invasive species, and promotes anti-poaching programs
- Enacts long-awaited provisions supporting Sportsmen’s access and heritage
- Allows the permitting or leasing of public land for shooting ranges and target ranges
- Strengthens partnerships with our national parks by authorizing the Every Kid Outdoors program and the 21st Century Conservation Corps
- Requires federal agencies to manage and enhance wildlife species and habitats that respects statement management authority and private property rights
- Facilitates an “open until closed policy” on federal land by requiring federal public land to be open for hunting, fishing and recreational shooting unless the Secretary closes an area for public safety or applicable to other laws and only in consultation with state fish and wildlife agencies through public notice and comment
- Curtails obstructive litigation by requiring publishing of EAJA and Judgment Fund payments issued
Statements of Support:
“This is a historic moment for our local community and for all Americans who visit the Paradise Valley, the Yellowstone River, and Yellowstone National Park. Thank you Senator Daines for your commitment to getting the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act through the Senate and your display of bipartisanship.” – Bryan Wells, owner of Emigrant Creek Cabins and founding member of Yellowstone Gateway Business Coalition.
“Words cannot express how thankful the Yellowstone Gateway Business Coalition is to Montana’s Congressional Delegation right now! We are thankful to Senator Daines and how hard he has fought for this community and Yellowstone National Park! He has helped us reach this historic day! Today is a day that will ensure the permanent protection of Paradise Valley and Yellowstone National Park! We couldn’t be more thankful for his support and efforts.” – Colin Davis, Chico Hot Springs Resort
“Senator Daines played a key role in helping pass the lands package in the Senate. RMEF particularly appreciates his tenacity on behalf of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which this bill reauthorizes permanently, and its provisions to improve access to federal lands for hunting, fishing and recreational shooting. These are priorities RMEF has been working on for many years and we are pleased the Senate was able to reach bipartisan agreement to send the bill to the House.” – R. Kyle Weaver, President & CEO, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
“After a half-century of success in Montana and across America, permanently reauthorizing LWCF should be a no-brainer. Senator Daines has repeatedly stepped up to press the case, and his efforts on the Senate floor and behind the scenes have made a real, important difference. We look forward to continuing our work with him to enact permanent LWCF as part of S. 47, and ultimately to secure full dedicated funding for America’s most vital conservation program.” – Dick Dolan, Northern Rockies Director, the Trust for Public Land
“Today’s vote sends a strong message that we can find consensus in our support for our public lands. The Land and Water Conservation Fund has united sportsmen and women, businesses, and conservationists, because we all know how important it is to the future of public lands access. We urge the House to build upon this momentum and work together to pass legislation that permanently reauthorizes LWCF and strengthens our outdoor recreation economy.” – Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.
“This is good news for all sportsmen concerned about access to places to hunt, fish, target shoot and recreate on public lands. Hunters and recreational shooters need Congress’ help and today was a good first step. This package is a testament of the strength and unity of the sportsmen’s community, and we urge the House of Representatives to pass it as well.” – Timothy C. Brady, president of the Boone and Crockett Club.
“AFFTA has long stood by the conservation, restoration, and protection of our public lands and waters. The permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund as part of the lands package will ensure that each and every one of us will have the freedom and access to enjoy our wild and natural spaces, whether we fish, hunt, hike, camp, ride, or simply visit. We thank Senator Daines for his leadership in rallying the tremendous bipartisan support that this bill received, and ask the House to act quickly in approving this bill.”- Ben Bulis, President, American Fly Fishing Trade Association
“The Montana Outdoors Coalition applauds Senator Daines on his leadership for passing this bill that opens more federal land to sportsmen access, helps curtail fringe litigation impacting commonsense land management and permanently reauthorizes LWCF. This is a historic agreement that will benefit our outdoor heritage in Montana for long into the future.” – Dan Stusek, Montana Outdoors Coalition
“Montana businesses thrive thanks to our outdoor assets and valuable policies like the Land and Water Conservation Fund that protect our public lands and the economic advantages they provide. Business for Montana’s Outdoors couldn’t be more pleased by the good work to get LWCF finally across the finish line to permanent reauthorization. We are hopeful that the next step to safeguard this program for all Montana businesses is full funding, and we are grateful for Senator Daines’ tireless work to this point in securing the permanent reauthorization that was so critically needed for LWCF.” – Marne Hayes, Business for Montana’s Outdoors
“Senate passage of the lands package is an important early step in this Congress toward Land and Water Conservation Fund permanent reauthorization, and it’s great to see Senator Daines and Senator Tester helping lead the way. There’s still reauthorization work to do in the House, and we look forward to working with the Montana Congressional Delegation to get these goals accomplished.” – Glenn Marx, Montana Association of Land Trusts