Today, we have achieved a remarkable victory. The United States House of Representatives passed the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act, which will forever prohibit gold mining on 30,370 acres of public lands at Yellowstone’s northern gateway. It now heads to the president’s desk to be signed into law, making it an extraordinary bipartisan win.
This bill that Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) introduced into the Senate 673 days ago passed the House of Representatives today. We applaud his tireless efforts campaigning for this protection. Congressman Greg Gianforte (R-MT) introduced an identical bill in the U.S. House of Representatives in December 2017 and Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) recently co-sponsored Tester’s bill to give it the extra push through Congress. We are thankful to our entire delegation for working together to protect our Montanan way of life and outdoor economy.
How did the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act come about? Four years ago, two fly-by-night companies began proposing risky gold-mining projects in Montana, north of Yellowstone National Park. Both companies have leases on private lands in Emigrant Gulch and on Crevice Mountain, surrounded by national forest and on tributaries of the Yellowstone River. This law limits their ability to expand onto public lands and protects the Yellowstone River from pollution. Our economy, outdoor heritage, and communities don’t run on foreign gold mines. They thrive because of Yellowstone National Park, public lands, abundant wildlife, and a clean, free-flowing Yellowstone river.
What’s next? The president will sign the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act when he returns from his trip abroad, making it law. While this law will protect public lands, there is still work to be done. Under-funded foreign companies are still knocking on the door to mine private in-holdings on the border of Yellowstone. On May 23, 2018 the Sixth District Court of Montana, Park County agreed with all of our claims that the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) did not take a hard enough look at the impacts of Lucky Mineral’s proposals for drilling on private lands. We are waiting on the court’s final decision to vacate their permit under our right for a “clean and healthful environment” under the Montana Constitution.
The Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act proves that exceptional things happen when we set aside political differences to protect Montana jobs, public lands, and our agricultural heritage. What could typically takes decades of work took Montanans only four years to accomplish. It makes us proud to show the world that Yellowstone is more valuable than gold.
GYC remains committed to a future when all lands at Yellowstone’s gateway are permanently protected from large-scale gold mining.
We extend an enormous thanks to YOU for all your support throughout this campaign. You are one of the reasons these public lands next to Yellowstone are permanently protected. We could not have done this without you!
—Joe Josephson, Senior Montana Conservation Associate