US Senate recognizes value of Paradise Valley, public lands

Wednesday, February 13, 2019


If you needed any more proof that Americans value public land, look no further than Tuesday’s vote in the U.S. Senate.

The Senate took the unprecedented step of advancing the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act, or YGPA, on a 92-8 vote.

“Nothing passes 92-8 in the United States Senate,” U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, who introduced the YGPA, told reporters on a conference call following Tuesday’s vote.

Sen. Tester and Sen. Steve Daines should be congratulated for championing the act through the Senate.

The 92-8 vote comes at a time of bitter political divide in our country and serves as a much-needed symbol that some things, such as Paradise Valley, simply must be protected and that the rural voices of our area are in fact heard — if we are unified and undeterred — even in Washington, D.C.

Sometimes an act of Congress is needed to ensure those protections, and a majority of the U.S. Senate showed it agrees.

“It took public lands to bring a divided government together,” Daines said during a Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources press conference.

Now, it will be up to U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, another sponsor of the act, to help advance it through the House in the coming weeks.

The bill is expected to advance through the House and finally arrive at the desk of President Donald Trump for a final signature, Enterprise reporter Johnathan Hettinger reported Tuesday. As Daines noted following Tuesday’s vote, public lands are a resource that Americans from all corners of our country support.

Yet there are constant efforts to strip away the protections of our public lands in Montana and beyond. Opponents of the act, which permanently bans mining on 30,000 acres of the Custer Gallatin National Forest, argue that it’s a job killer: it’s anti mining, anti industry, etc.

But the fact is few support mining at the doorstep of Yellowstone National Park and many support protecting these lands. If you consider the impact that mining could have on not only Yellowstone National Park, but also Paradise Valley and the many drainages that lead to the blueribbon Yellowstone River, it’s an easy decision.

As we’ve said in this space before, many Park County residents deserve a standing ovation for their efforts in making this a reality.

We can only hope the community soon gets that opportunity. The U.S. House must now approve the act, which is advancing as part of a public lands package known as the National Resources Management Act, and send it to President Trump.

After all, these are our public lands and we stand united in support of protecting them.

— Justin Post
Enterprise Managing Editor