WASHINGTON- Representative Greg Gianforte (R-MT) received praise Thursday from Yellowstone National Park-area businesses for advancing the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act (H.R. 4644), a companion to the Senate version introduced by Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) last April.

The legislation would protect 30,000 acres of public lands from mining operations and withdraw mineral rights for the area north of YNP.

Both the House and Senate versions of the bill have zero impact on private land or any valid existing rights of claim holders on public lands.

Gianforte has worked closely with the Yellowstone Gateway Business Coalition in crafting the legislation, which commended his bipartisan work with Sen. Tester.

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“Greg Gianforte is doing what the wide majority of local citizens asked him to do, namely, introduce companion legislation to Tester’s bill and not muddy the waters with other issues,” said Jeff Reed, a local business owner in the Paradise Valley. “We are extremely thankful to him for protecting Montanans and our jobs.”

Sen. Tester also issued a statement supportive of working with Gianforte to pass the legislation.

“I am glad to see the Congressman has listened to local businesses and families in the Paradise Valley and I will work with him to move a clean, bipartisan bill forward. There are just some places that we shouldn’t mine, and a large-scale mine on the doorstep of Yellowstone Park will hurt the local economy and chase jobs out of Park County,” Tester said.

With legislation in both the House and Senate, business leaders say they are in a better position to pass their measure by the end of 2017.

“We’ve always said if our delegation could unite together, we would stand a much better chance of passing the Yellowstone Protection Act into law and I’m hopeful we can now finish the job this year,” said Tracy Raich, a local business owner in the Paradise Valley.

Rep. Gianforte also introduced the East Rosebud Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (H.R. 4645) on Thursday, which would conserve a portion of the East Rosebud Creek north of YNP.

“In some areas, the best use of our natural resources and treasures is conservation and recreation. This standard applies to the East Rosebud Creek which is why I introduced today’s legislation,” Gianforte said in a press release.

Gianforte’s legislation would designate the portion of East Rosebud Creek as a wild and scenic river under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The U.S. Forest Service has approved this portion of the creek as eligible for the wild and scenic designation, while the U.S. Geological Survey, along with other agencies, see little potential for oil and gas development in the designation area.

Sens. Tester and Steve Daines (R-MT) have introduced a similar, bipartisan bill in the U.S. Senate.

Passage of the legislation would make East Rosebud Creek Montana’s first wild and scenic river since 1976.

-David Dyas reporting for MTN