More than 230 local businesses are plastering the Paradise Valley with banners and yard signs with the message “Yellowstone is more valuable than gold” in prelude to Thursday’s National Park Service centennial celebration in Yellowstone National Park.

As two foreign-backed companies continue to pursue gold exploration next door to Yellowstone, the members of the Yellowstone Gateway Business Coalition are doubling down on their opposition to large-scale gold mining, which threatens their jobs and the valley’s robust economy.

More than 6,000 attendees are expected to attend the Yellowstone Centennial Celebration on Thursday, including Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Montana Governor Steve Bullock. Those traveling through Paradise Valley and Gardiner en route to the celebration will be greeted with hundreds of yard signs, billboard takeovers and large banners in front of local businesses supporting the Yellowstone Gateway Business Coalition.

The coalition hopes to distribute more than 500 yard signs to supportive businesses and landowners.

According to a founder of the business coalition, the birthday party of the National Park Service is perfect timing for local businesses to show their opposition to the gold mines.

“There can be no better way to celebrate Yellowstone’s contributions to all Americans during the centennial year of the National Park Service than to protect the very doorstep of Yellowstone from gold mining,” said Colin Davis, owner of Chico Hot Springs Resort in Pray, Mont. “Montana cannot afford any proposal that will pollute our clean water, hurt our businesses and threaten our jobs.”

Davis and several other Business Coalition members went to Washington, DC, earlier this year to ask lawmakers for a permanent Made-in-Montana solution that protects the economy, the way of life, and private property rights near Yellowstone National Park. They have also asked the federal government for a ‘pause button’ to give locals enough time to craft that solution.

He says they are still patiently awaiting an answer.

The Coalition also unveiled a new economic report revealing that Montana’s Park County enjoys a robust, sustainable, and growing economy. The economic report, titled Park County’s Growing Economy, specifically warns that any economic benefits from large-scale mines in Paradise Valley “are often short-term or transitory while their negative impacts are deep, continuing sometimes in perpetuity.”

Business Coalition members aim to protect jobs in Park County by protecting the unspoiled nature bordering Yellowstone from large-scale gold mining. The group includes hometown outdoor stores like Livingston’s Timber Trails, beloved family inns like Chico Hot Springs Resort, and one of Park County’s largest employers –

“This isn’t a political issue, this is a business issue,” said Tracy Raich, Coalition member and owner of Raich Montana Properties.

Both gold exploration proposals – one from Australian-backed Crevice Minerals to explore Crevice Mountain near Jardine, the other from Canada’s Lucky Minerals to explore Emigrant Gulch behind Chico Hot Springs – are currently awaiting review from Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality.

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