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.
On an advertising panel in Boise’s Camel’s Back Park, Midas Gold lays out the attractions of their proposed Stibnite Project located in the headwaters of the East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon River. The advertisement claims the project will boost Idaho’s economy, provide employment opportunities, and restore fish migration to the nearby rivers and streams. Nowhere on the sign does Midas acknowledge that the Stibnite Project is a massive open-pit gold mining operation that will put a unique and cherished place at risk of losing its wild heart.
Midas Gold has been working diligently to convince the communities of the West Central Mountains to sign a partnership agreement which is being touted to investors in exchange for rising stock prices. This past Monday notched a big win for those who oppose the Stibnite Gold Project. After due diligence by the City of McCall, the Council unanimously voted not to sign an agreement with Midas Gold.
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.