VICTORY! Interior Department extends temporary timeout on Yellowstone mining for 20 years

Victory! Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke extended the temporary timeout on mining at Yellowstone’s northern gateway today for another 20 years, giving us a critical safety net to work with Montana’s Congressional delegation to pass a bill that will keep mines away from Yellowstone, forever.

 Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke speaks at Sage Lodge in Paradise Valley. (Photo GYC.)

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke speaks at Sage Lodge in Paradise Valley. (Photo GYC.)

Zinke announced the 20-year extension at a ceremony at Sage Lodge in Montana’s Paradise Valley. When asked about if we should be worried about Lucky Minerals’ existing claims, Zinke told attendees to “sleep well tonight.”

Two fly-by-night companies are proposing risky gold-mining projects in Montana, north of Yellowstone National Park. Both companies have leases on private lands, surrounded by public national forest, but this timeout would limit their ability to expand onto public lands for 20 years.

We’re grateful to Secretary Zinke for extending this timeout. He’s been steadfast in his support for stopping mining at Yellowstone’s gateway since he was Montana’s sole Congressman, and he’s stood with Montanans on this issue several times since becoming Interior Secretary. Thank you, Secretary Zinke, for signing this 20-year extension.

This action demonstrates yet again that protecting Yellowstone cuts through partisan politics. By acting today, this Republican-led administration doubled down on the Obama administration’s two-year timeout to keep mines away from Yellowstone’s gateway. Both administrations listened to Montanans and to all of us who’ve said for years: Yellowstone is more valuable than gold!

 Secretary Zinke signs a 20-year mining timeout for Yellowstone’s northern gateway. (Photo GYC.)

Secretary Zinke signs a 20-year mining timeout for Yellowstone’s northern gateway. (Photo GYC.)

Today’s announcement also gives us a safety net and extra time to pass another true bipartisan effort: The Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act, introduced by both Montana Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat, and Montana Rep. Greg Gianforte, a Republican. Passing a bill will mean protecting Yellowstone not just for 20 years, but permanently.

Thank you for supporting our work. Your comments, your phone calls, and your support have made today’s win possible.

-- Joe Josephson, Senior Montana Conservation Associate