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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release October 20, 1998


Yesterday I was pleased to sign into law H.R. 3381, the "Gallatin Land Consolidation Act of 1998." This law will direct the Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior to transfer certain lands and other assets in Montana to the Big Sky Lumber Company in exchange for a significantly larger amount of land to be included in the Gallatin and Deer Lodge National Forests.

The Gallatin land exchange is consistent with my goal of restoring and protecting the greater Yellowstone ecosystem. It is complementary to my efforts to protect Yellowstone Park from the risks of mining, to secure to the public trust important tracts of land adjacent to Yellowstone, and to restore and ensure the well-being of Yellowstone wildlife.

I want to particularly thank Senator Max Baucus for his hard work and leadership on this matter over many years. Senator Baucus has long been a leader on the issue of preserving our Nation's natural heritage while remaining a tenacious advocate for the working families of Montana.

Although the Gallatin land exchange provides an opportunity to acquire environmentally sensitive lands that are essential to the conservation of wildlife habitat and improves public access to public lands, I do object to the language in this bill that declares that the studies undertaken over the last several years are "sufficient" for the purposes of compliance with environmental laws.


                                   THE WHITE HOUSE,
                                   October 20, 1998.