Baucus, Tester will introduce legislation banning mining, energy development in North Fork

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Two days after British Columbia placed the area north of Glacier National Park off limits to mining, Montana's leadership announced it would do the same on federal lands here.

"We need to show the Canadians we're working in good faith on our side of the border, as well," said Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont.

…Baucus said a handful of existing - but dormant - mineral leases in Montana could be "swapped out or bought out," much in the same way Montana's Rocky Mountain Front energy leases were retired. In the long run, he said, the companies will actually make more money by negotiating their way out of the politically and environmentally sensitive landscape.

…The North Fork area, Baucus said, is critical to the region's economic success, noting that tourists spend more than $150 million every year in the Flathead Valley.