Jewell, Tester to Promote Montana’s Nearly $6 Billion Outdoor Recreation Economy; Join Blackfeet Nation Chairman & Council for Land Buy-Back Program Milestone
Published May 3, 2016
HELENA, MONTANA – On Tuesday May 3, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell will join U.S. Senator Jon Tester to meet with business and community leaders to discuss a variety of issues important to the state, including the economic benefits of Montana’s $5.8 billion outdoor recreation economy, balanced energy development and upholding trust responsibilities to Native Americans.
Secretary Jewell and Senator Tester will join Helena-based outdoor recreation business leaders and stakeholders at the Devil’s Elbow Recreation Area to kick off the start of the summer vacation season, where they will highlight the benefits of the Land and Water Conservation Fund and push for its permanent and full reauthorization. Devil’s Elbow, a Bureau of Land Management recreation area, has benefitted from $600,000 in LWCF funds, expanding its public access and maintenance. Secretary Jewell will also announce funding to engage youth in service projects on Montana’s public lands this summer.
The discussion follows on the heels of Secretary Jewell’s conservation speech at National Geographic last month, where she announced that Interior will work with the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis to produce an independent study detailing the impacts of outdoor recreation on our nation’s economy.
Later in the day, Jewell and Tester will travel to Browning to join Blackfeet Nation Chairman Harry R. Barnes & Council members to announce an important milestone for the Blackfeet Tribe and Interior’s Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations. The Buy-Back Program implements the land consolidation component of the Cobell Settlement, which provided $1.9 billion to purchase fractional interests in trust or restricted land from willing sellers at fair market value within 10 years. Since it began making offers in December 2013, the Program has paid more than $740 million to individual landowners and restored the equivalent of nearly 1.5 million acres of land to tribal governments.
Following the event, Jewell and Tester will join Blackfeet Nation leaders for a tour of the reservation, including a visit to a Bureau of Indian Education dormitory, detention center, museum and the St. Mary’s Dam, a key source of clean drinking water, which the Tribe would like to increase its access to as part of a pending water settlement.