Michelle Uberuaga is the Executive Director of the Park County Environmental Council in Livingston, Montana, a grassroots organization working to protect a landscape that is vital to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem – and one that is threatened by two massive gold mines, rural sprawl, and lingering intolerance to grizzly bears and wolves. Armed with a background as an attorney, a winning personality, and the ferocity of momma bear, Michelle is making headway, along with the members of PCEC… Michelle articulates why species like the grizzly bear need active local AND national constituents, explaining why she works at both scales.
"So Lucky Minerals Inc. has proposed a pretty large industrial scale gold mine operation in Emigrant Gulch… ultimately, they had staked claims on over 2,500 acres on both private and public lands in Emigrant Gulch. That covers a lot of area back there, and three drainages to the Yellowstone River."
"Of course, gold mining does not have a good history of protecting water. We have gold being mined from the sulfide ore body, which leads to acid mine drainage, and that can have really devastating impacts on aquatic life."
"The community really responded very quickly and effectively and in a unified manner in opposition to this type of development. So it was a really rewarding when we started spreading the word through community meetings, we saw just a huge outpouring."
"We have to be thoughtful about how we dive in and what we can do, but inevitably the concern is that we don’t think that Yellowstone’s grizzly bears are ready for delisting."
"We’re concerned about grizzly bears as an isolated population. All bear advocates share this concern, that we need grizzly bears. They can’t exist in an island population around Yellowstone National Park."
"About my kids: So I think growing up in a place like this, your whole worldview is different, because you see yourself as part of an ecosystem or I hope that they see that. I think it’s a really special thing."