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Middle Fork Salmon Mine Proposed (ID)

Posted: 12/22/2008
by Kevin Colburn

American Independence Mines and Minerals, Inc has proposed a large scale mining exploration operation 3 miles inside of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness.  The mining operation would take place in the Big Creek watershed, which enters the Middle Fork Salmon at the beginning of Impassable Canyon.  


The proposal would require vehicle passage for approximately 3 miles past the Wilderness boundary on an old roadbed that was converted to a trail decades ago. Vehicle access would require clearing slough, downed trees, and other obstacles to maintain a safe width for equipment transport. The proposed operation would require reconstructing approximately 2000 feet of pre-existing roadbed on each claim. These roads would access 13 drill locations from which multiple core holes would be drilled. Approximately 2500 feet of trench would be excavated in the roadbed to allow collection of rock chip samples. The Ella Mine, inaccessible since the 1930s, would be opened and retimbered to allow underground mapping and sampling. Equipment proposed for use includes 4-wheel drive pickup trucks, a 3 cubic yard tracked or rubber-tired loader, tracked excavator, buggy or track mounted drill rig, D-7-size bulldozer, an air compressor, chainsaws, gasoline-powered generator, jackhammer, and hand tools. Waste rock would be placed on an existing dump at the Ella portal site.


And all that is just mining exploration.  If the mines were to be opened for production a vastly larger amount of industrial activity would take place in the Wilderness.  This proposal is a poster child for why mining laws need to be reformed as they relate to public lands and Wilderness.  

The USDA Forest Service will prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the proposed Plan of Operations (which the USFS fittingly abbreviates as POO) for the Golden Hand 1 and 2 lode mining claims in the Frank Church--River of No Return (FC-RONR) Wilderness on the Krassel Ranger District, Payette National Forest. The EIS will disclose the environmental effects of the POO. This month American Whitewater filed comments on the scope of the Analysis and the issues to address.  The Draft EIS (DEIS) for the Golden Hand 1 and 2 Lode Mining Claims POO is expected to be available for public review in April, 2009 and the Final EIS (FEIS) and a Record of Decision are expected to be completed in July, 2009.  We will alert paddlers to the opportunity this spring to review and comment on the EIS.


You can view the original notice of the issue here


You can download our comments from the document box to the right of this article.


Kevin Colburn
Asheville, NC


Associated Rivers

Big Creek (Tributary of Middle Fork Salmon River) ID