U.S. backs protecting Yellowstone’s
northern gateway from mining
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[September 22, 2018]
By Laura Zuckerman
(Reuters) - New mining claims should be
banned for 20 years on more than 30,000 acres north of Yellowstone
National Park to preserve scenery, wildlife habitat, waterways and
outdoor recreation that fuels tourism in nearby Montana towns, the U.S.
Forest Service said Friday.
The recommendation to withdraw 30,370 acres of the Custer Gallatin
National Forest from mineral development comes after two large
gold-mining operations were proposed near Yellowstone, sparking
opposition from conservationists and local businesses in an area known
as Paradise Valley.
The controversial proposals were put on hold for at least two years in
2016 under the Obama administration, with officials saying more time was
needed to conduct an environmental review. That study, released in May,
supported continued restrictions on mining.
The original two-year moratorium is due to end Nov. 21. The Forest
Service recommendation to protect the acreage for an additional two
decades must be formally approved by U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke
to go into effect. The proposed 20-year ban would not affect existing
National forests fall under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Agriculture
Department, but an Interior Department agency holds subsurface mineral
rights to the area in question.
While Zinke, a former Montana congressman, has broadly promoted energy
and mining activities on public lands since becoming interior secretary
under President Donald Trump, he wrote on Twitter on Friday that he
supported the mineral withdrawal in his home state.
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The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River runs for 20 miles at
depths of up to more than 1,000 feet deep in Yellowstone National
Park, Wyoming, U.S., June 24, 2011. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart/File Photo
“I’ve always said there are places where it is appropriate to mine
and places where it isn’t,” he tweeted. “I’ve long fought to protect
the Paradise Valley."
Groups like the Yellowstone Gateway Business Coalition and the
National Parks Conservation Association welcomed Friday’s
“The doorstep to the world’s first and one of its most beloved
national parks is no place for industrial gold mining,” said the
association’s Stephanie Adams.
The National Mining Association did not immediately respond to
requests for comment.
(Reporting by Laura Zuckerman in Pinedale, Wyo.; Editing by Steve
Gorman and Diane Craft)
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