The South Fork of the Salmon, a whitewater river with important spawning habitat for migrating fish, has again been named a Most Endangered River on American River’s annual list. The reason and threat are still the same: Midas Gold’s Stibnite Project, a proposed gold mine at the headwaters of the river, that threatens downstream tribal nations, communities, and species that rely on a healthy South Fork.
If I had to describe Idaho’s South Fork of the Salmon in one phrase, I’d call it the rowdy cousin to its more famous and beloved drainage to the east, the Middle Fork. I’d even go a little further and call it the three-bourbons-deep, wrassle-you-to-the-ground, slap-your-ass-and-leave-some-pawprints babe of a cousin to the Middle Fork. I had the pleasure of getting my first taste of a solid South Fork welcoming slap a couple years ago.
On the banks of Payette Lake, I stood beside land owners, business owners, anglers, kayakers, hunters, boaters, teachers, tribal members and my 5-month old nephew. Myself, and over 200 people on September 1, gathered for the Rally for the South Fork Salmon. We raised our proud, clear voices in uneasy opposition for the Midas Gold Stibnite Project. We spoke our truths, truths which haven’t been tarnished by the Midas dollar.
Midas Gold is advancing its work to make partners out of west central Idaho communities and has offered to create a trust in an apparent bid for political support. According to a McCall City Council agenda, Midas is focusing its efforts on McCall, Cascade, Council, Donnelly, New Meadows, Riggins and the village of Yellow Pine, as well as Adams, Idaho and Valley counties; and the West Central Mountains Community Partnership—basically every municipality in proposed mine’s direct area of impact.
The Payette National Forest on February 2 released a summary of the 536 public scoping comments it collected regarding the Midas Gold Stibnite Project. A majority of comments expressed concern. A noteworthy percentage highlight serious apprehensions for environmental quality, human health, and wildlife and species conservation on the forest.
The Idaho Rivers United community made a strong statement this month when it spoke clearly in favor of clean water and healthy fisheries in the South Fork of the Salmon River basin. A large mining company is proposing three massive open pit mines at the headwaters of the East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon River, a river prized for its fisheries and whitewater.