BY Tim Leeds/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
The Liberty County Commission is holding a meeting Tuesday to discuss a proposed purchase of mining interests in the Sweet Grass Hills to create a state park.
Minnesota-based Mount Royal Joint Venture has proposed that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management buy out its interests in the Sweet Grass Hills. BLM put a mining moratorium on nearly 20,000 acres in the hills in 1996, including on the land where Mount Royal Joint Venture has mining interests. The moratorium runs through 2017.
Opponents to mining in the area have said they support creating a park in the hills and permanently banning mining there, but not at a high price tag the mining company is likely to ask.
The proposal includes the federal government compensating Mount Royal Joint Venture for an estimated 1.75 million ounces of gold and silver in the area.
The land the mining rights are under is considered sacred by several American Indian tribes, including the Chippewa, Cree, Assiniboine and Blackfeet.
The proposed park site, which includes the upper drainage of Tootsie Creek and the Devils Chimney Cave landmark, would be managed by the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks after BLM buys out the interests, according to the Mount Royal proposal.
The amount of the purchase has not been disclosed, but opponents have said they have heard a price of $25 million mentioned.
The meeting begins at 2 p.m. in the commissioners' offices in the Liberty County Courthouse.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this story.