We can’t keep doing this

These things keep popping up one after another.

A mining proposal for the flanks of Emigrant Peak. A mining proposal for Jardine. A gravel pit/asphalt plant proposal south of Emigrant.

Two of these operations would be in Paradise Valley, one of the most beautiful spots on earth.

As they pop up, people opposed try to shoot them down.

There are so many proposals now, it’s hard to keep up with them.

To use a metaphor from Livingston’s past, this is no way to run a railroad.

What’s being played out in these proposals and the opposition to them is the decades-long Montana conflict: on one side, landowners who say, “You can’t tell me what to do with my property”; on the other side, residents who reply, “Not if it’s going to ruin what makes this place so special and affect the value of my property.” 

There are so many reasons not to have mining, gravel pit and asphalt plant operations smack in middle of the Paradise Valley that it makes your eyes water. No one is saying we shouldn’t have them. It’s just that having them in a place like Paradise Valley is a bad, shortsighted idea.

To quote U.S. House Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., in a recent interview with The Enterprise: “There’s places to mine. I just can’t see where mining around Yellowstone National Park or Glacier meets the greater good.”

If we don’t come up with a plan bigger than these individual projects, these kind of proposals will keep coming up, roiling the community every time.

That community needs to decide what it wants for Paradise Valley, and other areas like it in Park County. We can’t keep repeating these conflicts.

That raises the prospect of the “Z” word — zoning. Few want hard-core, tree-hugging, California-style restrictions. But surely, given the threats to an area cherished by everyone — traditionalists and environmentalists alike — zoning could be crafted that at least rules out large-scale mining and heavy industry.

It would spare us a lot of angst in the long run.

— Dwight Harriman
Enterprise News Editor