Dec. 9, 2006
For immediate release:
GREAT FALLS, Mont.—Trout Unlimited on Saturday thanked U.S. Sens. Max Baucus and Conrad Burns for their pivotal roles in the passage of a Senate bill that permanently protects the Rocky Mountain Front from future oil and gas drilling, said David Stalling, at TU field organizer who helped with efforts to protect the Front on behalf of Montana anglers and hunters.
“Montanans have long recognized that the Front is a truly wild, special place,” Stalling said. “Local citizens and conservation organizations have worked diligently, for many years, to protect the Front from future drilling, and Sens. Baucus and Burns deserve a lot of the credit for making it happen.”
Stalling was also quick to thank a key player in the energy industry, Questar Energy Corp., which donated gas leases on the Front to TU earlier this year.
“This was a huge, collaborative effort that involved a lot of divergent interests,” Stalling said. “Fortunately, for hunters and anglers who cherish the Front for its fishing and hunting, those interests all found common ground and came together to keep the Front just like it is now for generations to come.”
The Rocky Mountain Front, best described as the last intact place where the Rockies spill out onto the Great Plains, is home to robust populations of west slope cutthroat trout, elk, deer, bighorn sheep, wolves, grizzlies and other wildlife. It’s the last place in the country where grizzly bears wander the foothills between the mountains and prairie, and its value to those who hunt and fish is immeasurable, Stalling said.
“That the Rocky Mountain Front is now protected for future generations speaks volumes,” Stalling said. “Sen. Baucus showed an amazing amount of foresight, and Sen. Burns helped cement his legacy by working to protect the Front. I can’t thank them enough, and I know there are thousands of hunters and anglers who feel the same way.”
The bill, passed by the Senate late Saturday now awaits the signature of President Bush, the last step before it becomes law.
“This is pretty incredible,” Stalling said. “There are a lot of people who have devoted their lives to protecting the Front, and to finally see their efforts come to fruition is really gratifying.”