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Bill Protecting Flathead's North Fork Stalls In Senate

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WASHINGTON, D.C. -

A bill that would prevent mining, oil and gas exploration along the North Fork of the Flathead River stalled in the Senate today.

Senators Jon Tester and John Walsh are sponsoring the North Fork Watershed Protection Act.

They said republican senators blocked the bill from reaching a vote on the senate floor.

Montana's senators said politics are getting in the way of protecting Montana's waterways.

"Politics trumped good policy, hurting Montana's economy and our outdoor heritage in the process.  The American people deserve better," said Tester in a statement.

"The primary interest of more than 80% of existing federal leases in the watershed have voluntarily been relinquished," said Walsh. "Everyone understands the importance in keeping the North Fork pristine."

Congressman Steve Daines sponsored a similar bill that passed the House last month.

The North Fork of the Flathead River borders Glacier National Park, which brings in about 2 million visitors and $170 million every year.

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