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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: Political appointee taking over as Interior IG | Change comes amid Zinke probe | White Houses shelves coal, nuke bailout plan | Top Dem warns coal export proposal hurts military Top House Armed Services Dem says Trump coal export plan could hurt military HUD political appointee to replace Interior Department inspector general 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 DainesTrump administration could use military bases to export coal, gas McConnell: No one is going to beat Murkowski in Alaska Murkowski brushes off GOP backlash: 'I'm good with' Kavanaugh vote 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 GianforteKavanaugh secures votes needed for Senate confirmation Gianforte offers GOP senator plane to return for Kavanaugh vote Montana lawmakers cheer recommendation to ban mining north of Yellowstone MORE (R) is also supportive of the move. He and Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterTrump renews attacks against Tester over VA nominee on eve of Montana rally Election Countdown: O'Rourke goes on the attack | Takeaways from fiery second Texas Senate debate | Heitkamp apologizes for ad misidentifying abuse victims | Trump Jr. to rally for Manchin challenger | Rick Scott leaves trail to deal with hurricane damage The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Trump travels to hurricane-ravaged Florida, Georgia 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 TrumpTrump renews attacks against Tester over VA nominee on eve of Montana rally Trump submits 2017 federal income tax returns Corker: Trump administration 'clamped down' on Saudi intel, canceled briefing MORE.