National Parks Traveler| October 8, 2018

Tourism has trumped mining in a scenic valley just north of Yellowstone National Park that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, following the lead of former Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, said would be off-limits to new mining claims for two decades.

Two years ago Secretary Jewell and Under Secretary of Agriculture Robert Bonnie traveled to Chico Hot Springs, Montana, just north of the park, to announce that the Obama adminstration would block new mining claims on 30,000 acres of U.S. Forest Service lands just north of the park.

The “segregation” of the lands Jewell and Bonnie announced was to be in effect for two years while the Departments of Interior and Agriculture evaluated whether to withdraw this land from new mining claims for an additional 20 years.

“There are good places to mine for gold, but the doorstep of Yellowstone National Park is not one of them,” Secretary Jewell said at the time. “As we celebrate 100 years of the National Park Service, today’s action helps ensure that Yellowstone’s watershed, wildlife and the tourism-based economy of local communities will not be threatened by the impacts of mineral development.”

On Monday, Secretary Zinke finalized the withdrawal of the acreage mining for 20 years, subject to valid existing rights. This is the longest period possible under the secretary’s authority, and there are efforts in Congress to pass legislation making the withdrawal permanent.

The area covered by this action is generally known as the historic Emigrant Gulch and Crevice mining districts in a region known as the Paradise Valley at the northern gates of Yellowstone.