Daines works to expand recreational access to public lands, promote outdoors economy | TSLN.com

Daines works to expand recreational access to public lands, promote outdoors economy

Senator Steve Daines today pushed for bipartisan solutions to preserve Montana's outdoors heritage and protect Montanans' Second Amendment rights.

During today's Energy and Natural Resources legislative hearing on S. 556, the Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act of 2015, Daines stressed the importance ofprotecting access to Montana's public lands and increasing recreational opportunities for hunters and anglers.

"This is an important bill to Montana and I am a proud cosponsor. Like so many Montanans, hunting, fishing and access to public lands is a way of life for us. It passed down through my grandfather, to my dad, and to me, as a kid growing up," Daines stated. "I know Montana sportsmen are frustrated with their current level of access to public lands in Montana. And they are frustrated with fringe groups who are obstructing worthwhile projects that are important to effectively managing our forests."

Daines pointed out the implications of litigation on responsible management of Montana's National Forests and highlighted the effects of these lawsuits on Forest Service staffing resources and their slowed movement on new timber projects.

"Montana faces severe challenges in mismanagement of our federal forest lands due to habitual litigation," Daines stated. "In fact, just two weeks ago, U.S. Forest Chief Tidwell confirmed that litigation, restraining orders have a significant impact on federal forest management. They occupy important staff resources that could otherwise be spent on getting projects done. Yet, these habitual litigants continue to get reimbursed by the federal taxpayer through the Equal Access to Justice Act and the Judgment Fund. In particular, I am happy to see the provision related to ensuring taxpayers are given more transparency on the recipients of these funds."

The Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act of 2015 contains 14 bipartisan provisions to support sportsmen's access to public lands and recreational opportunities.

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Daines served as the House sponsor of the Making Public Lands Public Access Act, which utilizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to increase Montanans' opportunities to enjoy hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation through greater access to public lands. The bill requires the greater of 1.5 percent or $10 million of annual LWCF be made available for improving recreational access to existing federal lands.

A full list of the measures included in the Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act of 2015 is available on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee's website.

–Senator Daines