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Yellowstone National Park South Entrance, Yellowstone visitation

Former Greater Yellowstone Coalition Head Donates Papers to MSU

Mike Clark, former executive director of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, has donated his papers to Montana State University (MSU) in Bozeman.

The acquisition includes over 40 years of materials, ranging from notes and correspondence to photographs.

According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Clark’s collection is being processed and will be made available to the public for research and viewing:

“We are proud to host this chronicle of an influential activist from our community,” said Kenning Arlitsch, dean of the MSU Library. “Mike Clark’s archive helps tell the environmental and political history of the West, and it will be available for anyone to view.”

MSU University Archivist Kim Scott said the acquisition is notable because it adds an important voice to MSU’s collections related to Yellowstone — an area in which it specializes.

Beyond that, Clark’s collection is also valued for its unusually long span, Scott said.

“This collection includes a combination of daybooks, random thoughts and diaries dating back as far as the 1970s that give a personal take on this remarkable career of his, as well as interactions with people as he led or participated in these environmental or social justice movements,” Scott said. “It is rare to find a collection that has a continuous thread of material that allows researchers to understand the creator’s daily activity for that span of time.”

Clark first became executive director of the GYC in 1994. At the time, the GYC and other environmental groups were up in arms against a proposed mine—the New World Mine—near Cooke City, which serves as Yellowstone National Park’s Northeast Entrance. Environmentalists and activists feared the New World Mine would cause irrevocable damage to Yellowstone’s watershed and ecosystem.

Clark and the GYC spearheaded opposition to the mine, which gained a national following and prompted then-president Bill Clinton to visit Yellowstone. According to the Chronicle, Clark is credited with getting President Clinton to arrange a buyout of interest in New World Mine from bidding company Crown Butte Mines. According to the Chronicle, however, Clark is modest about his role in the deal:

Of the New World Mine controversy, Clark is quick to note that he was just one of thousands of people involved in opposing the mine, and he attributes the successful resolution to collaborative efforts.

“The deal worked because we had this amazing coalition of people,” Clark said. “I just happened to be the leader and got some public credit.”

Clark first served as executive director between 1994 and 2001, returning to serve a second term between 2009 and 2013. He currently serves as a consultant and, according to the Chronicle, is at work on several book projects.

MSU Archivist Scott told the Chronicle the Clark papers (as well as a comprehensive finding aid) will be available starting June 2018.

About Sean Reichard

Sean Reichard is the editor of Yellowstone Insider and author of Yellowstone Insider For Families 2017.

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