Tester's Bill to Protect Yellowstone's Doorstep Clears Senate Committee

Senator's Bill Will Preserve Yellowstone Gateway and Montana's Outdoor Economy

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester’s bill to permanently protect Montana’s iconic Paradise Valley from hardrock gold mining cleared a major hurdle Tuesday.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed Tester’s Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act permanently withdrawing mineral rights on 30,000 acres of federal public land north of Yellowstone National Park. The bill passed on a unanimous vote.

“Some places are more precious than gold,” said Tester, the only senator in the delegation to sponsor the bill. “My bill will ensure outdoor recreation businesses can continue to thrive in the region, and will protect one of our nation’s greatest treasures for generations to come.”

The Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act preserves land on the Custer Gallatin National Forest adjacent to the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness, and eliminates the ability for proposed mines to expand onto unclaimed public land.

Tester’s bill is supported by dozens of groups and businesses in the Yellowstone region that rely on the area for their business. Yellowstone National Park visitors spent an average of $196 million in Park County in 2014 that helped create and sustain nearly 3,000 jobs.

Tester testified before the committee on behalf of his bill last July, and has been fighting to protect the Yellowstone Gateway for the past three years.

Last week, the House Natural Resources Committee passed companion legislation on a 28-4 vote.