Forest Service Unable to Stop Disastrous Mining Project in Rural Washington
Washington's incredibly scenic Methow Valley is “where residents and visitors, including many from Seattle, walk dogs, run trails, cross-country ski, snowmobile, hike, bike and even paraglide” (from the linked article.)
A Canadian mining company, Blue River Resources, wants to “explore” this area to see if a copper mine would be lucrative. “Explore” means boring numerous thousand-foot holes into the Earth. This digging would be going on 24/7, for months on end, and would require hauling thousands of gallons of water up the mountainside. Blue River Resources repeatedly failed to return phone calls from the Seattle Times.
Methow Valley's 5,300 residents are almost unanimous in their frantic opposition to the proposed mine. But a bought-and-paid-for state representative, Joel Kretz (R—Industry Prostitute) said:
“I’m tremendously supportive of the Mazama project.”
The Forest Service has been swamped with comments, most of them opposed to the mine. Mike Liu, Winthrop District Ranger for the Forest Service, said:
“This project has brought the most fan mail I’ve seen in awhile.”
“At the end of the day, we could require certain kinds of mitigation. But to say ‘no you can’t develop,’ that’s not part of my authority.”
For this, you can thank the General Mining Law of 1872. Under this law, completely unchanged since 1872, any citizen or company can make a claim on public lands for $5 an acre. (That was a lot of money in 1872.) On top of that, these companies or individuals are not required to pay any royalties to the federal government.
A lot of Methow Valley residents are determined to do whatever it takes to prevent any mining projects in their community. One resident said:
“Nobody here wants a mine, but I also have concerns about the drilling itself. This is late-successional forest. It’s above the headwaters of Goat Creek. We have concerns about impacts on wetlands and Forest Service roads, and what that might mean for siltation.”
The owner of a local inn frequented by hikers, skiers and bikers said:
“I’m in the tourism business. Are mountain bikers going to keep coming through with a drill rig passing by? Goat Peak is one of the most popular trails in Mazama.”
Another local resident said:
“Allowing this to go forward is simply out of the question. It can’t happen. We won’t let it.”