Montana lawmakers cheer recommendation to ban mining north of Yellowstone

Montana lawmakers cheer recommendation to ban mining north of Yellowstone
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Forest Service officials are advising the Trump administration to extend a current ban on mining in thousands of acres just north of Yellowstone National Park, a recommendation being cheered by Montana lawmakers.

Regional forester Leanne Marten sent a letter to Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeOvernight Energy: Zinke joins Trump-tied lobbying firm | Senators highlight threat from invasive species | Top Republican calls for Green New Deal vote in House Zinke, Lewandowski join Trump veterans’ lobbying firm Is a presidential appointment worth the risk? MORE Friday asking the Interior Department to withdraw all mining rights on the 30,000 acres of land for 20 years.

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The Obama administration in 2016 first ordered a two-year moratorium for drilling in the area located in the mountains just east of the Paradise Valley.  A number of mining companies have surveyed the region for potential gold mining.

In a statement, Zinke, who will make the final call on adopting the recommendations, said he’s always “fought for the protection” of the region since he was a Montana congressman.

"I've always said there are places where it is appropriate to mine and places where it isn't. The Paradise Valley is one of those unique places...and now the Department is looking at finalizing the withdrawal in the coming weeks,” Zinke said.

Montana’s current congressional delegation is also championing the recommendation.

“The Paradise Valley and Gardner Basin are truly special places that deserve protection,” Montana Sen. Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesLand conservation tax incentives should inspire charitable giving, not loopholes Montana governor visiting Iowa amid talk of possible 2020 bid Will Senate GOP try to pass a budget this year? MORE (R) said in a statement.

“After an extensive process and public input, I’m glad to see that the Forest Service listened to the voices of the residents and is recommending this withdrawal.”

And Montana Rep. Greg GianforteGregory Richard GianforteSarah Sanders: ‘Absurd’ to say Trump has encouraged violence at rallies Montana Dems introduce bill increasing penalties for assaulting journalists Here are the lawmakers who will forfeit their salaries during the shutdown MORE (R) is also supportive of the move. He and Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterHow the border deal came together GOP braces for Trump's emergency declaration Border talks stall as another shutdown looms MORE (D-Mont.) previously introduced legislation that would make the mining ban permanent.

In a statement Friday, Tester called the Forest Service's recommendation a acknowledgement of his plan.

"Today's news is a positive step forward, but we must not rest on our laurels. The entire delegation must throw their full support behind our bill, which permanently protects the region's economy for future generations,” Tester said in a statement.

Tester is facing a tough re-election race this fall, one of 10 Democratic senators up for a vote in a state won by President TrumpDonald John TrumpJustice Department preparing for Mueller report as soon as next week: reports Smollett lawyers declare 'Empire' star innocent Pelosi asks members to support resolution against emergency declaration MORE.