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Gianforte Moves to Protect Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, Economy

December 14, 2017
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Montana Congressman Greg Gianforte today introduced legislation to protect a vital part of Montana’s recreation and tourism economy near Yellowstone National Park.

The Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act (H.R. 4644) withdraws mineral rights and bans mining operations on public land in an area north of the park. The permanent moratorium enjoys widespread support from the community.

“As the gateway to Yellowstone National Park, Paradise Valley is well known for its fishing, hunting, hiking, and recreation that are cornerstones of the area’s growing tourism industry. The area is both a natural treasure and a natural resource for the valley’s economy,” Gianforte said.

“The fact is not every place is the right place for a mine, and we must protect our public lands and Yellowstone National Park. The consensus of the community has been clear which is why I introduced today’s legislation,” Gianforte said.

“A permanent ban on mining in Paradise Valley will protect this natural treasure, Montana jobs, and our way of life for generations to come,” Gianforte said.

Gianforte has been in regular discussions with residents and members of the Yellowstone Gateway Business Coalition, which has built strong public support for protection of the public lands surrounding Yellowstone National Park.

The park has attracted record visitation with over 4 million people annually over the past two years. The park is a vital part of Montana’s overall $6 billion recreation and tourism industry. Yellowstone Park visitors spent an estimated $196 million in Park County alone in 2014. Withdrawing mineral rights on public lands will not impact public access to those lands.

Strong local support for the proposal is a key component of Gianforte’s decision to introduce the legislation, but he stresses the importance of building a coalition in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“It’s not enough just to introduce this important bill. I’ve been working with my colleagues in the House to build consensus and get this bill passed,” Gianforte said.

Community leaders and stakeholders welcomed Gianforte’s efforts and legislation:

“I’m glad to see our state representatives work on behalf of the local community and people worldwide to designate the best use of these public lands by passing the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act,” said Park County Commissioner Clint Tinsley.

“Our community has been united in asking for a permanent solution to protect our public lands and the growing economy they fuel here in Park County. That’s exactly what Congressman Gianforte is delivering by introducing the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act in the U.S. House. Our community is grateful, and we look forward to working with our entire delegation to get this done,” said Michelle Uberuaga, Executive Director of Park County Environmental Council.

“We are thankful that Congressman Greg Gianforte heard our concerns loud and clear and is working to protect our jobs and way of life,” said Bryan Wells, owner of Emigrant Creek Cabins. “It’s time to get the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act over the finish line.”

“We’ve always said if our delegation could unite, we would stand a much better chance of passing the Yellowstone Protection Act into law and I’m hopeful we can now finish the job this year,” said Tracy Raich, a local business owner in the Paradise Valley.

“On behalf of Simms nearly 200 employees and our partners here in Montana, we thank Congressman Gianforte,” said K.C. Walsh, Executive Chairman of Simms Fishing Products. “It is important to respect local voices when making land use decisions, and we appreciate that Congressman Gianforte has responded to the strong opposition to mining in this sensitive area. The Yellowstone River is one of the most significant fisheries in our state, and it is critical to our business in Montana.”

“Thank you, Representative Greg Gianforte, for your efforts to protect our multi-million-dollar fly fishing industry on the Yellowstone River. The Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act is straightforward and commonsense legislation that protects the people and the economy of Yellowstone’s Gateway,” said Ben Bulis, President and CEO of American Fly Fishing Trade Association.

“We commend steps taken today by Congressman Gianforte to safeguard the Paradise Valley near Yellowstone National Park,” said Joel Webster, Western lands director for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “We greatly appreciate that the Congressman listened to the hunting and fishing community about the future management of Paradise Valley, as well as East Rosebud Creek, and we encourage Congress to advance this legislation in the near future.”

“This bill protecting Yellowstone’s gateway from gold mining is just what we’ve asked for as part of the broad, bipartisan coalition of Montanans who’ve said for two years: Yellowstone is more valuable than gold. We’re grateful to Congressman Gianforte for standing with his constituents, and for introducing this bill that will protect Yellowstone’s gateway and the healthy local economy it fuels,” said Caroline Byrd, Executive Director of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition.