In November 2016, the Department of the Interior announced that new mining claims will now be prohibited on approximately 30,000 acres of U.S. Forest Service land near Yellowstone National Park’s northern entrance. The segregation will be in effect for two years while the Departments of Interior and Agriculture evaluate whether to withdraw this land from new mining claims for an additional 20 years
The Canadian mining company, Lucky Minerals Inc. had proposed a mineral exploration project in Emigrant Gulch in the Custer-Gallatin National Forest. The project would have been located approximately 7 miles southeast of Emigrant, Montana, near Yellowstone National Park and the historic Chico Hot Springs. The company planned to drill 12 exploration wells on federal land and 23 drill sites on private land on the western flank of Emigrant Peak, for copper, gold, silver or molybedenum. Ultimately, the company hoped to develop an open pit mine across multiple drainages covering 2,560 acres in Emigrant Gulch.
The area provides important habitat for grizzly bears and is a popular year-round recreation area. Emigrant Creek flows through Emigrant Gulch and is a tributary of the Yellowstone River. The project drew major concern from the public about the project’s impacts to endangered species, roadless area incursions, water quality threats and impacts to recreation and the local economy it supports. Along with the Park County Environmental Council and the Yellowstone Bend Citizens Council, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition hosted hundreds of community members, business owners and interested citizens at community meetings in Emigrant and Livingston.
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