At 3:00 p.m. this afternoon, the annual National Defense Authorization Act, along with a package of Montana lands bills including the North Fork Watershed Protection Act and the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act, was passed by the Senate and sent on to President Barack Obama’s desk for signature.
This is very good news for the protection of the North Fork. It is also excellent news for our friends on the Rocky Mountain Front, not to mention carrying with it the first new wilderness additions in Montana in 31 years.
Here’s the lead-in for an early article in the Missoulian. We’ll add links to more coverage (see below) as it occurs . . .
The Senate voted to pass its annual National Defense Authorization Act on Friday , sending Montana’s first wilderness additions in 33 years to President Barack Obama’s desk.
The vote wound up at 3 p.m. after several attempts to add amendments and return it to committee. The final tally was 89-11, with both Montana Democratic senators Jon Tester and John Walsh voting in favor. Walsh held the gavel as Senate chairman at the start of the vote.
The National Defense Authorization Act authorizes $585 billion in Pentagon discretionary spending and $63.7 billion in overseas contingency operations. Those dollars go to things like developing the F-35 fighter jet, maintaining nuclear weapons, operating aircraft carriers and paying military personnel.
It also includes a package of 70 public land management bills; the biggest collection since the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009. They create about 250,000 acres of new wilderness designations and protection of other lands from energy development…
Senate passes North Fork, Rocky Front bill (Hungry Horse News)
Senate Approves Montana Lands Package (Flathead Beacon – good article)
Congress Approves Montana Wilderness (Associated Press)
Tester: U.S. Senate maneuvers kept land bills uncertain until final vote (Missoulian)