Tester Calls on Zinke to Protect Yellowstone Gateway
Senator: Outdoor Economy Too Important To Risk
(U.S. Senate) - U.S. Senator Jon Tester is calling on Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to follow Tester's lead and protect the Paradise Valley from hardrock gold mining before the current two-year moratorium runs out next month.
A Senate committee this week approved, with bipartisan support, Tester's Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act, which permanently protects the area. But until the bill becomes law, the 30,000 acre region north of Yellowstone National Park remains at risk.
Though most residents of Paradise Valley are not satisfied by another temporary ban on mining, they say it's an important step until Tester's bill becomes law. Zinke must approve the temporary ban, which the U.S. Forest Service recommended in September.
"While mining plays an important role in our state's history and economy, there are some places where it doesn't make sense," Tester wrote Zinke. "That's why I introduced legislation to permanently withdraw mineral rights on 30,000 acres of federal land, leaving existing rights and private property intact."
When mining was first proposed a few years ago, businesses and organizations in Park County asked Tester to defend the Yellowstone Gateway and Montana's $7.1 billion outdoor recreation economy. Yellowstone National Park visitors spent an average of $196 million in Park County in 2014, which helped create and sustain nearly 3,000 jobs in the region.
Tester stood up for the Paradise Valley in arguing for his bill before the Senate Natural Resources Committee last year.
"I urge you to approve the temporary administrative withdrawal that is before you as a safeguard until Congress enacts permanent protection for the Paradise Valley," Tester wrote. "We must work together to ensure that this breathtaking area is still protected at the end of the next month, and at the end of the next century."
Tester's full letter to Secretary Zinke is available HERE.