Clean water takes hit in Boise River

The Forest Service recently denied an appeal of the CuMo Exploration Project filed last month by the Idaho Conservation League, Idaho Rivers United, the Sierra Club, and the Golden Eagle Chapter of the Audubon Society. The drilling is occurring in the upper Grimes Creek drainage, near Idaho City.

The conservation organizations submitted a 76-page appeal, citing concerns that constructing 12 miles of exploration roads and 259 drill holes will adversely impact wildlife and water. The Forest Service Regional Office concluded that the environmental effects had been properly analyzed and that the exploration project could proceed. Under the Mining Law of 1872, the Forest Service cannot deny permits to explore or to develop a mining claim on public land. The soonest that Mosquito Gold, the exploration company, could commence the 2-5 year drilling project would be June 7. 

The Mining Law of 1872 provides that mining is the highest and best use of the land – even more so than protecting municipal water supplies:
“We think the Forest Service should have done a more thorough job evaluating long-term and cumulative impacts on water quality, and we are reviewing all our legal options,” said Liz Paul of Idaho Rivers United. 

“Mining is very high-risk and we are determined to protect the clean water of the Boise River. Every step of the process including exploration deserves close scrutiny,” said Jessica Ruehrwein of the Sierra Club.

The Boise River watershed provides clean drinking water for our communities, irrigation water for local agriculture and unmatched recreation activities for families, all of which make Idaho a great place to run a business and enjoy a phenomenal quality of life. 

The exploration project is the next step toward a massive open pit mine in the headwaters of the Boise River. According to the EPA, mining is the number one toxic polluter in the United States.

“The mining industry’s track record across the landscape is clear: boom and bust cycles, leaving contaminated water for the public to clean up,” said Pam Conley of the Audubon Society.

“If Mosquito Gold’s proposed mine were in downtown Boise, the bottom of the pit would be below sea level. This is not the type of high-risk, industrial activity you want in the headwaters of your drinking water supply,” said John Robison of the Idaho Conservation League. “We are in this for the long haul and won’t let irresponsible mining activity proceed without a challenge.”