An environmental group fended off a gold mine near Yellowstone
A nonprofit conservation group has purchased a mining claim near the border of Yellowstone National Park, fending off development of a gold mine.
The Greater Yellowstone Coalition raised $6.25 million to buy more than 1,300 acres of mineral claims and rights from a company looking for gold in the area.
The site in Montana has expansive views of Yellowstone and the surrounding region, according to Scott Christensen, executive director of the coalition.
“It's a gorgeous spot,” he said. “On a clear day, you can look all the way across the park and see the Tetons. So, it's an amazing vantage point overlooking Yellowstone National Park. And really just an unfathomable place for a gold mine.”
Christensen said the coalition raised money from more than 1,300 donors in nearly every state in the U.S. to make the purchase. The nonprofit got involved with this effort several years ago upon learning that a company – Crevice Mining Group LLC – wanted to drill for gold on its claims near the park.
Negotiations on the value of the land took over a year, but in the end, Christensen is happy to be able to protect the region from potential environmental harm.
“It's one of those maybe increasingly rare win-wins in the field of conservation where we can protect a national and international treasure like Yellowstone National Park and at the same time let a mining company walk away,” he said.
The coalition plans to eventually sell the property to the U.S. Forest Service, according to a report in the Billings Gazette.
Christensen said this conservation effort could inspire similar negotiations around the Mountain West.
“It's become more and more difficult over time as our country's become more partisan to pass legislation related to conservation,” he said. “We've had to come up with more creative solutions, and this is an example of that.”
Many federal lands near wilderness areas, especially in the Mountain West, have mining claims on them thanks to a law that’s now more than 150 years old.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, KUNC in Colorado and KANW in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.