PRAY, MT – Today, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke finalized the withdrawal of more than 30,000 acres of federal lands in southwest Montana from mining for 20 years, subject to valid existing rights. This is the longest period possible under the Secretary's authority. 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 National Park. At a press conference and signing ceremony announcing the withdrawal, Secretary Zinke was joined by local small business owners and conservation advocates who have worked for years to secure a withdrawal.
"Access to public lands and water has allowed the Paradise Valley to build a world-class hunting, fishing, tourism and recreation economy. Whether it's enjoying the natural hot springs, fly fishing the Yellowstone, or hiking up Emigrant Peak, there's no shortage of ways to enjoy this beautiful region," said Secretary Zinke. "I fully support multiple use of public lands, but multiple use is about balance and knowing that not all areas are right for all uses. There are places where it is appropriate to mine and places where it is not. Paradise Valley is one of the areas it's not. The 20-year withdrawal will set that land aside and allow the local tourism industry to grow. I'm thankful to Secretary Sonny Perdue and the local community for their continued work on this important issue."
“My heartfelt thanks go to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke who has repeatedly made time to listen to our community since we first knocked on his office door over three years ago,” said Colin Davis, owner of Chico Hot Springs and founder of the Yellowstone Gateway Business Coalition. “Today is a great day for the families and businesses in the Paradise Valley and paves the path toward permanent protection for the doorstep of Yellowstone National Park.”
“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, owner of Raich Montana Properties. “We have a sustainable economy which is driven by keeping the natural resources intact whether it be agricultural, livestock, recreational, or hospitality. Thank you, Secretary Ryan Zinke for listening to us and for understanding what’s at stake.”
"I'd like to thank Secretary Zinke for following through on his commitment to protect Yellowstone Gateway,” said KC Walsh, president of SIMMS Fishing and a board member of the American Fly Fishing Trade Association. “He understands the value of this unique resource for recreation, tourism, and the outdoor industry businesses that are supported by the Yellowstone and this beautiful valley."
Secretary Zinke has worked toward securing a withdrawal in this area for several years as both a Member of Congress and the Secretary of the Interior.
In addition to helping safeguard the local tourism and recreation economy, the withdrawal also conserves important habitat for migrating big game species like elk and mule deer. The conservation of these routes has been one of Zinke's priorities as reflected in Secretarial Order 3362, which was signed in January 2018.