Montana Sen. Jon Tester is asking the Obama administration to take steps to block two proposed mines outside Yellowstone National Park, saying they threaten the area’s natural setting and the livelihood of those who live nearby.
In a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Tester said he will consider legislation to prohibit the federal government from granting mining permits on two areas of federal land north of the park.
Tester is asking federal officials to prepare an administrative withdrawal of mining and mineral permitting and allow for public comment before the end of the 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,” Tester wrote. “The doorstep of Yellowstone, which was established as our first national park 144 years ago, is one of those places.”
Lucky Minerals seeks to conduct gold exploration near Emigrant while Crevice Mining Group is looking to do the same near Jardine.
To prevent the establishment of mines outside of the park, roughly 31,500 acres of federal land in the Custer Gallatin National Forest must be withdrawn from federal mining and mineral leasing laws.
Tester said the withdrawals wouldn’t impact management of the land, meaning the areas would remain open to public use.
“The prospect of large-scale mining operations threatens the unique nature of this area and the livelihoods of the people who live there,” Tester said.
In 2016, more than 4 million people visited Yellowstone Park.