TRCP Applauds Passage of Rocky Mountain Front Protections

Coalition thanks Congress for shielding special natural area WASHINGTON – The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP) today expressed its appreciation to Congress for ensuring the passage of language protecting public land in Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front from future energy development. “They’re not an overly giddy group, but right now Montana’s hunters and anglers are thrilled that this area is being protected,” said TRCP Chairman James D. Range, who spent the weekend hunting in the Front’s shadow. “Sportsmen have learned something in this whole process, namely that by partnering with other people and groups – including some they might not have thought of as friends at the beginning of this push – they can get things done.” “The Coalition to Protect the Rocky Mountain Front deserves a lot of credit for maintaining the political momentum to turn the idea of protection into law,” said Steven Belinda, who manages the TRCP’s efforts to promote a better balance between our nation’s energy needs and the needs of fish and wildlife. “With their efforts and those of the Coalition for the Valle Vidal in New Mexico, we’re seeing broad coalitions begin to bring positive change to the country’s special landscapes.” The recently passed language on the Rocky Mountain Front, authored by Sen. Max Baucus, would disallow the federal government from offering new oil and gas drilling or hard rock mining leases in an area that spans from Glacier National Park to Rogers Pass. The language passed as part of a tax bill that cleared Congress in the last minutes of the final session. “Embedded in these protections is an important recognition that some public lands are too important for reasons other than their fossil fuel values to be drilled for oil and gas,” said the TRCP’s Dr. Rollin Sparrowe, who chairs the TRCP Fish, Wildlife and Energy Working Group. This unprecedented working group includes several of the country’s leading hunting, fishing and wildlife conservation organizations and is promoting a more balanced approach to energy development on public lands. Last week eight members of the coalition filed letters with congressional appropriators calling for the immediate passage of the Rocky Mountain Front protection language. Organizations signing these letters included TRCP Partners the American Sportfishing Association, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Federation of Fly Fishers, Izaak Walton League of America, Quality Deer Management Association, Wildlife Management Institute and The Wildlife Society. The working group’s approach is encapsulated in a set of guiding principles, the FACTS for Fish and Wildlife, designed to better address the needs of the renewable resources that reside on the same public lands facing energy development. A key tenet of the approach is that some areas, especially those like the Rocky Mountain Front that are defined by their exceptional fish and wildlife resources, should be off-limits to development. *** The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership is a coalition of leading conservation organizations and grassroots partners working together to conserve fish and wildlife and their habitat, increase funding for conservation and management, and expand access to places to hunt and fish.