A large mining company is proposing a huge pit mine at the headwaters of the East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon River, a river prized for its fisheries and whitewater.
July 20 was the deadline for comments on Midas Gold's plan of operations, under review by the U.S. Forest Service. Almost concurrently, the Forest Service released a revised plan for mineral exploration, submitted by Midas in late June. The comment period for that phase of study concluded Aug. 14.
A huge thanks to the IRU community for getting involved in this environmental process. The South Fork of the Salmon River basin is a gem and deserves better than to have its water and fisheries threatened by corporate mining.
IRU's official scoping comments on Midas Gold's plan of operations (submitted July 20, 2017)
The below letter was submitted July 20 on behalf of more than 500 concerned individuals
Dear U.S. Forest Service officials:
I’m an outdoor enthusiast who cares deeply about the South Fork of the Salmon River basin, which is threatened by a new mine proposal.
As you know, Canada-based Midas Gold has proposed to reopen pit mines near the remote community of Yellow Pine at the headwaters of the East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon River, a river basin prized for fishing, hunting, natural beauty and paddling.
Midas is proposing a strip mine with three pits and a total project area of 29,827 acres, including 2,000 acres of pits, facilities, stockpiles, roads and other associated infrastructure. This is a direct threat to the river and its recreational value.
What’s more, the Stibnite area, which has been under exploration off and on from about 1900 through the 1990s, is already listed as a Superfund site. The Environmental Protection Agency spent $13 million to reclaim the site and stem the release of arsenic and mercury. The East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon River today is a river on the mend.
The company is also proposing to process all gold and silver on site, creating an opportunity for further environmental contamination. The project is proposed to last anywhere from 15 to 20 years or more and create long-term impacts to one of Idaho’s most important recreational river basins.
We oppose any action that threatens this amazing recreational resource including water quality, fisheries habitat and recreational access to popular boating segments on the East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon and South Fork of the Salmon rivers. Further, taxpayers cannot afford to fund another toxic cleanup for a private company.
Note: a prior version of this letter incorrectly identified the amount spent by the EPA. The amount is $13 million.