NPCA submitted the following position to members of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests and Mining ahead of a hearing scheduled for July 26, 2017.
NPCA urges members of the committee to support S.941 when it is heard by the Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests and Mining.
The legislation would permanently withdraw federal mineral rights on approximately 30,000 acres of National Forest System lands adjacent to Yellowstone National Park. This landscape, including the nation’s first National Park, is currently threatened by two proposed industrial-scale gold mines.
Industrial-scale operations, one potentially within view of the Roosevelt Arch that marks the northern entrance to Yellowstone, could have disastrous consequences on the environment, the local businesses that depend on the area’s thriving tourist economy, and the park experience that draws millions of visitors from across the globe. These visitors come for the abundant wildlife, world class fishing, recreational opportunities, and scenic vistas. These public lands also play a vital role in the health of the wildlife and waters of our nation’s first National Park and of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
The proximity of the proposed mines to the park would impair the park’s air quality, night skies, and globally-unique geothermal resources, as well as the iconic grizzly bear and a long list of other valued wildlife. Additionally, the proposed mines could have disastrous water quality impacts on the Yellowstone River which serves as the lifeblood of central and southeast Montana before feeding into the Missouri River.
Industrial-scale gold mines simply do not belong on the border of America’s first National Park. There is too much at stake for the land, the water, the wildlife, millions of visitors and the local economy to not protect these lands from mining.
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Yellowstone Program Manager