Tester: No Mining on the Doorstep of Yellowstone Park

Senator Considering Legislation to Withdraw Mining Leases that Put Paradise Valley Economy at Risk

(Polson, Mont.)- Senator Jon Tester is joining local businesses and sportsmen to permanently end the threat that two proposed mines have on Yellowstone National Park and the region’s economy.

In a letter to cabinet officials, Tester wrote that he is considering introducing legislation to prohibit the federal government from granting mining permits on two areas of federal land north of Yellowstone Park. Tester urged the officials to take the necessary steps to prepare an administrative withdrawal of mining and mineral permitting and allow for public comment before the end of this year.

“Mining has long played an important role in Montana’s history and our economy, but there are some places where it simply isn’t appropriate,” Tester wrote. “The doorstep of Yellowstone, which was established as our first national park 144 years ago, is one of those places.”

To prevent the establishment of mines outside of Yellowstone National Park, approximately 31,500 acres of federal land adjacent to the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness in the Custer Gallatin National Forest will need to be withdrawn from federal mining and mineral leasing laws. Withdrawals do not otherwise impact management of the land, meaning these areas will still be public land, open for outdoor recreation.

“The local economy in the Paradise Valley and Gardiner Basin is diverse and thriving due to the quality of life, opportunities for world-class fishing and other outdoor recreation, and the millions of visitors that Yellowstone draws through these communities every year,” Tester added. “The prospect of large-scale mining operations threatens the unique nature of this area and the livelihoods of the people who live there.”

Over the past year, Tester has met with local residents, entrepreneurs, and outdoor enthusiasts who oppose the efforts by foreign mining companies to dig or drill outside of Yellowstone Park-including more than 250 local businesses.

“Our gateway communities are no place for boom and bust industrial gold mines. Senator Tester gets that and stands with local businesses as we seek to protect a way of life and our economy in Park County,” said Bryan Wells, Owner of Emigrant Creek Cabins.

In 2013 and 2014, Yellowstone Park visitors spent an average of $196 million in Park County alone that helped create and sustain nearly 3,000 jobs.

In 2016, more than 4 million people will visit Yellowstone Park for the second year in a row.

Tester’s letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell, and Bureau of Land Management Director Neil Kornze is available HERE.