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Emigrant Gulch

Emigrant Gulch is narrow and lined with rocky outcrops like this. The geologic history of the area includes an era of mountain building about 70 to 80 million years ago that tilted sedimentary beds upward.

BOZEMAN — Environmental groups seeking to block a Canadian company's search effort for gold on private land near Yellowstone National Park face a setback after a judge found they didn't follow procedural rules in challenging a state law.

The Park County Environmental Council and the Greater Yellowstone Coalition argue a 2011 law violates Montana's constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment. The law prevents a judge from blocking exploration work while state-issued permits are being challenged.

District Judge Brenda Gilbert ruled late last month the groups failed to give proper notice to the Department of Justice so the agency could decide if it wanted to intervene in the constitutional issue, The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports.

The groups had hoped for a decision by July 16, when Lucky Minerals Inc.'s drilling license could become valid.

Gilbert earlier ruled state regulators hadn't conducted an adequate environmental review.

Shaun Dykes, vice president of Lucky Minerals Inc., said the company is waiting for the results of the court proceedings before paying the $154,000 reclamation bond on the project, which seeks to drill holes to test for gold and other minerals.

The company first proposed the exploratory drilling in 2015.

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