Local groups representing downstream residents and recreationists are challenging a decision by the Forest Service approving mining exploration in the headwaters of the Boise River for the CuMo Project. A Canadian mining company, Mosquito Gold, is planning on constructing over 10 miles of new roads and drilling 259 drill holes.
This is the next step toward developing what the mining company hopes could be one of the largest open pit mines in the world. Both exploration and mine development are extremely controversial because the Boise River watershed provides over 20% of Boise¹s drinking water supply. According to the EPA, Mining is the number one toxic polluter in the US.
"My father used to take me fishing on Grimes Creek," said Ann Finley, who is a local property owner and who is a member of the conservation groups. "I am concerned about the effects from this project on wildlife in the area and on clean water in the headwaters of the Boise River."
"We believe the Forest Service underestimated impacts to sensitive wildlife and water quality in the Boise River watershed from the road construction and drilling activities," said Pam Conley, with the Audubon Society, one of the plaintiffs.
"Historic mines in the area have left behind springs contaminated with toxic heavy metals," said Liz Paul of Idaho Rivers United. "One of our concerns is that the drilling process could increase the flows of these contaminants into the headwaters of the Boise River."
"We are challenging their decision because there are better ways to design the drilling so it has far less of an impact," said John Robison, Public Lands Director of the Idaho Conservation League. "If a company wants to mine in Idaho, they have to stay out of sensitive watersheds and do it right - it is far easier to take steps to keep water clean, than to try to clean it up after it has been contaminated."
"The mining industry¹s 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.
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 conservation organizations are working with the expert legal teams at Advocates for the West and the Western Mining Action Project on the watershed protection efforts.