Zinke announces mining ban near Yellowstone

Locals and some conservationists applaud; others cry favoritism by the Montanan.

 

On Oct. 8, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced a 20-year ban on new hardrock mining exploration north of Yellowstone. His decision, which follows a similar recommendation from the Forest Service, puts 30,000 acres in the Paradise Valley and Gardiner Basin off-limits to new mining claims.

“There are places where it is appropriate to mine and places where it is not,” said Zinke in a statement to The Hill. “Paradise Valley is one of the areas it’s not.” The withdrawal was greeted with cheers from some conservation groups and tourism interests. Others, however, criticized what they see as Zinke’s penchant for favoring protections close to home.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on a tour of Yellowstone in March 2017. On Oct. 8, 2018, he announced new mining protections north of the park.

The Yellowstone Gateway Business Coalition, which has the support of more than 400 area businesses, applauded Zinke’s decision. “My husband has worked in the mining industry for over 27 years and we support the mining industry, but the Paradise Valley which serves as the northern gateway to Yellowstone National Park is not the right location for any new mining activity,” said Tracy Raich, who co-founded the local business organization. “Thank you, Secretary Ryan Zinke, for listening to us and for understanding what’s at stake.”

Some national environmental groups also praised the Forest Service and Interior Department for moving to limit new mining in the area. “National Parks Conservation Association commends Agriculture Secretary Perdue and Interior Secretary Zinke for defending Yellowstone’s doorstep from industrial gold mining,” said a statement from NPCA’s President Theresa Pierno.

But some skeptics chalked the decision up to political ambitions and local favoritism. “While Zinke rushes to open up places like Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante, and the Boundary Waters to copper, uranium, and coal mining, only Montana’s natural treasures get the protection they deserve,” wrote Aaron Weiss, the media director for the conservation advocacy group Center for Western Priorities. “It’s now clear Ryan Zinke will only do the right thing when his political future is on the line.”

The Trump administration, supported by the Congressional Western Caucus, attempted to reverse a similar moratorium on uranium mining near the Grand Canyon. Zinke’s Interior Department also let a mineral withdrawal on Oregon’s Chetco River expire this summer.

The 20-year ban is the longest time period Zinke can sign off on without congressional approval. The Forest Service manages nearly all the land covered by Zinke’s decision; the Interior Department manages the below-ground minerals on public lands. Only Congress or the president can permanently protect the area.

Carl Segerstrom is an editorial fellow at NewTowncarShare News. Email him at [email protected] or submit a letter to the editor

NewTowncarShare News Classifieds
  • Grand Staircase Escalante Partners is hiring a full-time Restoration Program Coordinator based in Escalante, Utah. gsenm.org
  • Work passionately on behalf of the finest hiking and equestrian trail in the Western United States. Work for the Pacific Crest Trail Association! The Pacific...
  • 7.58 Acres in Delta County for $198,000. and a contiguous 25 acre parcel of land zoned agricultural is available in Montrose county for an additional...
  • in Moab, UT start in Spring. Naturalist, River Guides, Camp Cooks, Internships available. Details at cfimoab.org/employment.
  • Work passionately on behalf of the Pacific Crest Trail Association! Headquartered in Sacramento, California, PCTA is dedicated to protecting, preserving and promoting the Pacific Crest...
  • The Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust (RiGHT) seeks an energetic and motivated Stewardship Coordinator to manage on-going conservation easement stewardship and to work within our...
  • Program Manager, Tongass Forest Program Position Description The Southeast Alaska Conservation Councils Tongass Forest Program Manager coordinates all of the forest and land-use-related campaign work...
  • Friends of the San Juans is looking for an experienced attorney. Details at: http://sanjuans.org/2018/09/26/staff-attorney-fall-2018/
  • 25 acre in native grasses. Cedar draw. Year-round spring. At foot of Moscow Mnt, ID, 7 miles from town.
  • Custom-built pumice home, endless views, 20 minutes to Taos Ski Valley, NM. Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Taos Real Estate, 575-758-1924, https://hcne.ws/highdeserthaven
  • 5,000 square foot sustainable home on 30 acres in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. 20 minutes to Taos Ski Valley, NM. Berkshire Hathaway Home Services...
  • 541-987-2363, [email protected] www.dukewarnerrealtyofeasternoregon.com
  • Reporting to the Board of Directors (Board), the Executive Director (ED) has overall operational responsibility for FoGB staff, programs, expansion, and execution of the mission....
  • Join the Center for Conservation Peacebuilding for a workshop to build your capacity to transform conflicts and create lasting solutions for people and wildlife. April...
  • Nov 7-8 in Grand Junction, CO Keynote: Brad Udall on Climate Change Other Topics: Threats to Food Energy Water Security From Forecasting to Decision-Making Science...
  • with home on one acre in Pocatello, ID. For information and photos visit www.blackrockforgeproperty.com.
  • Skiing, biking, hiking, fishing, 3 bd/2 bth, deck. 1.38 acres, no covenants. Call Reggie Masters, Associate Broker Coldwell Banker Mountain Properties, 970-596-3568.
  • Here is an opportunity to have a piece of self-sufficient paradise on Idaho's Main Salmon River adjacent to the largest Forest Service wilderness area in...
  • Popular vacation house, furnished, 2 bed/1 bath, yard, dog-friendly. Lee at [email protected] or 520-791-9246.
  • Seeking passionate full-time Executive to lead the oldest non-profit organization in Idaho. Must have knowledge of environmental issues, excellent organizational, verbal presentation and written skills,...