Daines backs Yellowstone protections, not Tester's bill

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BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Republican Sen. Steve Daines says he opposes mining in some areas outside Yellowstone National Park but stopped short of endorsing proposed legislation on the matter from a fellow Montana lawmaker.

Daines appeared to speak favorably of Democrat Sen. Jon Tester's bill to block Yellowstone-area mining during a Wednesday hearing before a senate committee.

But a spokeswoman said afterward the Republican still is weighing the best way to achieve the withdrawal of lands outside the park from future mining.

Daines has said previously that property rights also must be respected.

Federal officials last year placed a two-year halt on new mining claims on 30,000 acres of federal land outside Yellowstone at the urging of Tester and local officials.

Two gold exploration projects are proposed on private land in the same area.

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