In a speech on Thursday, Max Baucus sounded almost homesick as he spoke of the natural glories of Glacier National Park and the nearby north fork of the Flathead river.

“In my 40 years in public office, I have found no place like the North Fork. When I leave the Senate, I want it to stay that way," said Baucus, speaking to the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. "This bill is our chance to leave one of the most special places on earth in better shape than we found it. I ask you to join me and all Montanans in that effort.”

The bill in question is the North Fork Watershed Protection Act of 2013, which was floated in both 2011 and 2012. The bill would create swaths of land around the north fork that where new federal leases for oil and gas development could not be administered (see map).

According to Baucus, the North Fork Watershed Protection act is one of the six items on his final term hit-list. The others being the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act, the 6th Montana Economic Development Summit, tax reform, passing a strong Farm Bill and renewing the Highway Bill.

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