Today, U.S. Senator Jon Tester introduced legislation to protect more than 30,000 acres of public land bordering Yellowstone National Park. These public lands in Montana’s Park County are the targets of two industrial scale gold mine proposals, which would threaten the national park, the clean water of the Yellowstone River, wildlife and the local economy. The legislation does not affect any recreational use of the land including hunting or fishing.
Senator Tester’s legislation follows actions made in the fall of 2016, when U.S. Departments of Interior and Agriculture began a two-year time-out on gold exploration and mining, on the public land near Yellowstone National Park. More than 300 local businesses of the bipartisan Yellowstone Gateway Business Coalition asked for the action, citing risks to their livelihoods and to the strong regional economy. The local calls for action were echoed on a national level, for the potential impacts to the world’s first national park and surrounding wildlife habitat, as well the Yellowstone River and its world-famous fishery.
Senator Tester’s legislation protects private property rights while enacting a permanent withdrawal on the public lands.
Statement by Michelle Uberuaga, Executive Director, Park County Environmental Council
“The people in Park County are standing together and saying industrial gold mining doesn’t make sense on the doorsteps of Yellowstone. Our river, our wild lands, and our wildlife are too valuable to gamble. Our local elected officials and the county commission are standing with us and we’re grateful to have Senator Tester’s leadership in Washington D.C. Now we need to see this to the finish line.”
Statement by Caroline Byrd, Executive Director, Greater Yellowstone Coalition
“More than 337 local businesses, plus all of us who love the Yellowstone River, Paradise Valley and the Gateway to Yellowstone—asked for a bill protecting this remarkable place, and Sen. Tester delivered. We’re grateful that he’s given us a bill that protects not only our economy, but also what fuels it: Yellowstone National Park and the public lands next door.”
Statement by Stephanie Adams, Yellowstone Program Manager for National Parks Conservation Association
“National Parks Conservation Association applauds Senator Tester for taking the next step in opposing industrial gold mines next to Yellowstone. Concerns over the threats to Yellowstone and its nearby communities and waterways have been echoed by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Montana Governor Steve Bullock and Senator Steve Daines. It is time for our elected officials at all levels to stand together in forever protecting these priceless lands.”
Statement by Jenny Harbine, Earthjustice Attorney
“Legislation is needed to permanently prevent private corporations from industrializing public lands in the heart of the Yellowstone ecosystem. The introduction of legislation is a crucial first step, and now we must all fight for Congressional approval of this critical protection for some of our nation’s most-prized wild lands.”
Jenny Harbine, Staff Attorney, Earthjustice, (406) 586-9699, ext. 1923
Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.