The nonprofit Greater Yellowstone Coalition said it plans to spend $6.25 million to buy out a proposed gold mine on the northern border of Yellowstone National Park in Montana.
The coalition said that it had already raised $3.8 million with hopes of finalizing the deal with Crevice Mining Group by Oct. 1.
“If successful, the effort would extinguish the last real and significant mining threat on the border of Yellowstone National Park, forever,” the coalition said in a statement Friday.
The agreement calls for the coalition to purchase the mineral rights, leases, and claims to 1,368 acres of land on Crevice Mountain, which rises above the Yellowstone River and the town of Gardiner, Mont.
“Given the significant threat this mine presents to Yellowstone National Park and its resources, we worked diligently to negotiate an agreement with the mining company that provides a win-win outcome,” said Scott Christensen, the coalition’s executive director.
“We simply cannot risk a gold mine being developed on the boundary of the park and this approach will protect these critical lands, the Yellowstone River, and the local community, while allowing the company to walk away,” he added.
In 2019, Congress passed the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act, a law that permanently protected more than 30,000 acres of land near the park from mining. But coalition officials said the lands on Crevice Mountain that had been slated for mining were exempted from the law.
The site provides habitat for grizzly bears and also serves as a migration corridor for the park’s wildlife, including elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep and bison.
In a statement, Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Cam Sholly said that park officials had “seen the negative impacts of mining on the Yellowstone boundary in the past.”
“Mining outside of the park, north of Yellowstone a century ago left a legacy of toxic waste severely contaminating the Soda Butte Creek, making it the most polluted stream entering Yellowstone National Park,” Sholly said.
“Simply stated, Yellowstone National Park is recognized as one of the world’s most iconic national parks and we are concerned that the impacts from this mine could detrimentally impact park resources and values,” he added.
The coalition noted that the mining company had made significant investments toward developing a mine at the site for more than a decade.
“Without intervention, the mine would move forward,” said Melissa Richey, the coalition’s director of philanthropy. “This campaign is our generation’s best opportunity to protect what we love about Yellowstone National Park.”
In addition to the agreement with the mining company, the coalition said it is working with willing landowners on Crevice Mountain in an attempt to buy more than 300 acres of private land.