Tester on 20-Year Ban in the Paradise Valley: It’s Only a Temporary Solution

Tester Continues to Push for Permanent Ban

(Kalispell, Mont.) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester issued the following statement after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced a temporary 20-year mineral withdrawl on the doorstep of Yellowstone National Park.

“There are some places you just shouldn’t dig or drill, the doorstep of our country’s first National Park is one of them. Today’s news is a positive step forward, but it’s only a temporary solution. I will continue fighting to pass my Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act, which would permanently ban mining in the Paradise Valley and protect the region’s world class scenery, resources, and economy for generations to come.”

Tester recently called on Secretary Zinke to issue a temporary ban while Congress works on passing Tester’s bipartisan Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act.

After two mining companies announced plans to expand their operations near Yellowstone National Park back in 2015, locals approached Tester about coming up with plan to protect the region’s natural resources and growing outdoor economy. Over the next two years, Jon worked with residents and small-business owners to craft the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act. This bipartisan bill will permanently withdraw federal mineral rights on 30,000 acres of public land in the Gallatin National Forest—adjacent to Yellowstone National Park—and prevent proposed mines from expanding onto unclaimed public land.

Today, Zinke accepted the recommendation of the U.S. Forest Service to temporarily withdraw mining rights across approximately 30,000 acres of land in the Paradise Valley, just outside Yellowstone National Park. Not only was this one of the issues Tester explicitly pushed Zinke on during his confirmation process last January, Tester has continued to hold the Interior Department accountable on this issue, calling on Zinke to accept the Forest Service’s recommendation just last week.

On Tuesday, Tester’s Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act cleared the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, a week after the House Natural Resources Committee passed companion legislation 28-4. Until Tester’s bill becomes law, the 30,000 acres north of Yellowstone National Park remain at risk.