Yellowstone Gateway Mines
Some places are too special to mine.
In 2015, two companies announced plans to mine for gold just north of Yellowstone National Park: Canada-based Lucky Minerals announced plans to explore up Emigrant Gulch and Washington-based Crevice Mountain Mining Corporation had claims near Jardine on the border of Yellowstone.
The mines threatened what makes Park County special: Clean water, crisp air, cohesive ecosystems, intact viewsheds.
So the community responded.
More than 400 local businesses, including PCEC, came together to form the Yellowstone Gateway Business Coalition, realizing the community would have the most success by working together.
The majority of residents in these areas opposed the mines, which threatened to disrupt quality of life, fragment habitat for species like grizzly bears and wolverines, threaten the agriculture and tourism industries in Paradise Valley and pollute the water.
We did everything from rallying thousands of public comments against the mine to sending members to Washington D.C. to lobby to stop the government from allowing mining on public lands. The bipartisan group pushed politicians from all sides, garnering the attention of Democrats and Republicans at the county, state and federal levels.
We demonstrated that the value of the land is that it is unspoiled, hence the coalition’s tagline: “Yellowstone is more valuable than gold.”
And we had success:
In Nov. 2016, Sec. of the Interior Sally Jewell came to Chico Hot Springs to announce a two-year withdrawal of mining rights in 30,000 acres of the Custer Gallatin National Forest where the mines were proposed.
In Oct. 2018, Sec. of the Interior Ryan Zinke extended the moratorium to 20 years at a ceremony at Sage Lodge.
We won a lawsuit against the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, with a judge ruling that approval of Lucky Mineral’s exploratory mining permit was unlawful.
In March 2019, President Donald Trump signed permanent protection for 30,000 acres of Custer Gallatin National Forest. Called the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act, the bill was championed by PCEC and the coalition. The bill was introduced by Democratic Sen. Jon Tester and co-sponsored by Republican Sen. Steve Daines and Rep. Greg Gianforte.
Today, both Lucky Minerals and Crevice Mountain have said they want to make the mines a reality, and community members remain concerned that mineral exploration on patented mining claims could still lead to mines in Emigrant Gulch and near Jardine.
Photo by William Campbell Photography