A Gold Mine on Yellowstone’s Doorstep? – by Aaron Teasdale (Sierra Magazine – October 13, 2017)


“People come from all over the world just to fish this river,” says Max Hjortsberg, a local ecologist and poet, as his fly arcs through the warm July air. Beyond our drifting boat, a broad bottomland rises to alpine summits. Vaulting a vertical mile from the valley floor, one mountain dominates the rest—Emigrant Peak.

If the scenery seems like something out of a movie, that’s because it is. Much of A River Runs Through It (1992) was filmed here in the aptly named Paradise Valley, and the anglers and summer-getaway builders have been flooding in ever since. They come here because the country is big and wild and beautiful; when people imagine Montana, this is what comes to mind.

What they’re probably not thinking of is industrial-scale gold mining, which is what two companies wanted to do just over the border from Yellowstone National Park. Environmental groups feared that the resource-extraction-friendly Trump administration would OK the projects. It did not, and now Paradise Valley’s experience looks like a model for successful land conservation in the Trump era.

The river running through the valley is the fabled Yellowstone, which attracts legions of fly fishers. But for generations, miners have been attracted to the veins of gold in nearby Emigrant Peak, some coming from faraway lands (hence its name).

High on Emigrant’s slopes, 17 miles from the park and only two miles from the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, British Columbia–based Lucky Minerals has staked claims to 2,500 acres, to drill for what it hoped was a “multimillion-ounce gold deposit.” The Crevice Mining Group, a Washington company backed by Australian investors, has proposed another mine for a site directly above the Yellowstone River, in view of park hiking trails.

For the rest of this article: http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/2017-6-november-december/grapple/gold-mine-yellowstones-doorstep