U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) has come out against the two mining projects proposed north of Yellowstone National Park.
Currently, two companies wish to perform “exploratory drilling” for gold and other minerals. One, Lucky Minerals Inc., has tentative support from the Montana DEQ to drill in Emigrant Gulch; the other, Crevice Mining Group LLC, wants to drill around Jardine, although its application has been routinely denied by the DEQ.
Local opposition to both ventures are strong, especially with regards to Crevice. And earlier this summer, the Yellowstone Gateway Business Coalition wrote a letter to the U.S. Forest Service calling on the agency to withdraw the land from mining availability.
Now Tester has lent his voice to the discussion, writing a letter to federal officials in the U.S. Department of Agriculture October 13. The full text of the letter is below, courtesy of The Western News:
As you know, a broad coalition of Montanans is working to protect the northern gateway to Yellowstone National Park from proposed industrial mining activity.
Based on this strong local support, I am considering introducing legislation to permanently withdraw two small areas of federal lands north of Yellowstone from mining and mineral leasing laws.
Today (Oct. 13), I am writing to encourage you to take the necessary steps to prepare an administrative withdrawal 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. The doorstep of Yellowstone, which was established as our first national park 144 years ago, is one of those places.
The approximately 31,400 acres of public lands proposed for withdrawal adjacent to Yellowstone and the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness in the Custer Gallatin National Forest deserve special consideration because of their unique character, exceptional beauty, and ecological value.
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.
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, I have heard overwhelming opposition from folks throughout the region to these projects proposed by foreign mining companies.
More than 250 businesses, as well as numerous local government officials, sportsmen’s and conservation groups, and landowners have told me that mining in the Emigrant and Jardine areas will harm the region’s economy and our outdoor heritage.
I stand with them in seeking to protect these areas.
I appreciate your attention to this matter and your assistance. If I can provide any additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me or my staff.
Currently, the DEQ is taking public comment on the Lucky Minerals proposal from now through December 12.