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 ZinkeSenate panel approves Interior nominee over objections from Democrats Interior's border surge puts more officers in unfamiliar role Not 'if' but 'when' is the next Deepwater Horizon spill? 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 DainesRepublicans spend more than million at Trump properties Bullock: Running for Senate 'never really got me excited' Liberian immigrant among Dems planning challenges to GOP senator in Montana 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 GianforteJournalists seek federal, state support for right to inform the public Don Lemon, Chris Cuomo criticize Trump’s response to Coast Guard lieutenant's arrest Sarah Sanders: Trump hasn't ‘at any point’ done anything but ‘condemn violence against journalists' MORE (R) is also supportive of the move. He and Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterSenate Democrats to House: Tamp down the impeachment talk Threat of impeachment takes oxygen out of 2019 agenda Overnight Defense: Trump officials say efforts to deter Iran are working | Trump taps new Air Force secretary | House panel passes defense bill that limits border wall funds 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 TrumpPapadopoulos on AG's new powers: 'Trump is now on the offense' Pelosi uses Trump to her advantage Mike Pence delivers West Point commencement address MORE.