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Mining Company Partners With Conservationists To Protect Wildlife Habitat Near Yellowstone

Caroline Byrd

A Canadian mining company and a pair of conservation groups have finalized agreements they say will protect two tributaries of the Yellowstone River and part of a crucial migration corridor for thousands of elk from Yellowstone National Park.

The Toronto-based mining company donated 549 acres and its water rights for the tributaries near the company's former Mineral Hill Mine site that closed in 2001.

Kinross Gold President J. Paul Rollinson signed the agreements Thursday in Jardine with representatives of Trout Unlimited and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

Caroline Byrd is Executive Director of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, a conservation organization that was not involved in the outcome of this particular agreement, but cares deeply about protecting the land, water and wildlife within the region.

I spoke with her while she and a couple others stopped for a “really good” barbecue sandwich in Emigrant, on their way to the formal event in Jardine.

Byrd says that Thursday’s agreement creates a bright new future for the old mining community of Jardine.

“This is a future for outfitting, for hunting, for recreation, for access,” says Byrd. “I mean this is, this is kind of what we want to have happen, and the progress, and the movement we want to see again and again, of this positive momentum towards conservation and protection of this remarkable place that we call Greater Yellowstone.”

The announcement comes as local residents and businesses are trying to stop two new gold mines proposed in the same area north of Yellowstone.

The Greater Yellowstone Coalition is actively campaigning against those mines.

Byrd says there’s a little bit of irony there, but nevertheless, she and her allies in conservation are not going to dwell on that today.

“Today is about the celebration and not taking away the good work that's been done by all of these organizations in these communities for so long to kind of wrap this up and make this a conservation success. Those are the kinds of celebrations we want to be having all the time,” said Byrd.

The three members of the state's congressional delegation and Deputy Interior Secretary David Bernhardt also attended the event in Jardine.

Senator Steve Daines wrote on Twitter, “Kinross, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Trout Unlimited: you've shown us that we can have it all in Montana.”