Federal officials are recommending approval of a plan to block new mining claims for 20 years on public lands in the mountains north of Yellowstone National Park.
U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Marna Daley said the local head forester endorsed the plan to withdraw 30,000 acres in Montana's scenic Paradise Valley from new claims for gold, silver, platinum and other minerals.
“We’re psyched," said Colin Davis, a founding member of the Yellowstone Gateway Business Coalition. "We’re really excited.”
The Yellowstone Gateway Business Coalition is a group of hundreds of Park County land and business owners fighting proposed local mining plans.
“It’s news we have hoped for and a lot of us have worked really hard for," Davis said. "It seems like an administrative withdrawal is imminent.”
A final decision is up to the office of U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who says it could be finalized in the coming weeks.
“Interior Secretary Zinke has expressed support of this publically on so many occasions, I can’t imagine the wind would be blowing in an opposite direction," Davis said.
The withdrawal would affect public lands, not existing mining claims or exploration on private lands.