Campaign to Protect the Methow Valley from Mining Forges Ahead with Senate Hearing

With its first Senate committee hearing in the books, the Methow Headwaters Protection Act comes one step closer to safeguarding the region's treasured lands and waters.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
September 26, 2016

On September 22, 2016, the Methow Headwaters Protection Act of 2016 (S. 2991 ) was considered in a hearing held by the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. The hearing was a big step forward for legislation that would protect 340,000 acres of Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest in the Methow Valley from the potential development of a large-scale mine. 

At the hearing, Ranking Member Maria Cantwell received testimonies, including The Mountaineers’, making the case for the bill. Notably, the Forest Service announced they will work to protect the Methow Valley through an administrative withdrawal of mineral entry. As land managers of the area, the Forest Service’s backing is a very encouraging next step toward protection.

In The Mountaineers testimony, we provided a recreationist perspective on the value of this stunning landscape, stating:

“We enthusiastically support this proposal that would protect the nationally-significant recreational opportunities and the unique quality of life in the Upper Methow area that is characterized by stunning peaks, pastoral lands, beautiful riparian corridor, and undeveloped viewsheds”.  

Proud Partners

Our testimony comes on the heels of our continued partnership with the Methow Headwaters Campaign, a broad coalition of local residents, business owners, and organizations working to protect the area. To help with the campaign, we’ve asked you all to sign the petition (thank you to those of you who did so!) and strategized on advocacy and outreach with the Outdoor Alliance. Recently, we helped arrange a hike that showcased the region to Cantwell staffers.

A Voice for Recreationists

Throughout the campaign, we’ve championed the diverse adventures to be had in the region:

  • Hiking: Dozens of Forest Service trails as well as the Pacific Crest Trail travel through the area.
  • Nordic Skiing: Methow Trails features the most extensive network of groomed trails in North America with over 120 miles to explore.
  • Mountain Biking: Trails include Slate Peak, Rendezvous Loop, West Fork Methow, Yellow Jacket, Cutthroat, and Cedar Falls. Plus, the Methow Community Trail offers easy riding that connects Mazama and Winthrop and facilitates access to an array of other trails.
  • Whitewater Boating: The Methow River and Chewuch have easy access for day trips, while the Lost River offers one of the finest backcountry whitewater adventures in the North Cascades.
  • Climbing: In warmer months, Goat Wall, Fun Rock, and Prospector Wall offer easy access to great routes, while winter adventures include ice climbing at Goat Wall and Gate Creek.
  • Mountaineering/Backcountry Skiing: Some of the best alpine climbing in the United States is a short drive up Highway 20 to the iconic Liberty Bell Group and Burgundy Spires at Washington Pass. For mountaineers, Golden Horn offers a trip deep into a roadless, Forest Service area with spectacular views of the North Cascades. These alpine destinations also include classic backcountry ski terrain such as Silver Star. This area of Washington Pass is within the North Cascades Scenic Highway Zone that is temporarily withdrawn from mineral entry. This important area also merits the permanent protection the bill provides to the rest of the watershed.

Thank You

Our legislators tend to get lots of asks, and not as much in the way of thanks. It has been amazing to watch the support this campaign has, from the local community to our Senators. A quick thank you from Mountaineers members makes a big difference.

Something as simple as:

“Thank you for you work to protect the Methow Valley from industrial mining through introducing the Methow Headwaters Protection Act of 2016, and for working to secure a hearing for the bill.”

 Sen. MurraY

Sen. Cantwell

Action

If you’d like to learn more about this issue, visit the Methow Headwaters website, and sign the petition in support of the campaign.

Sign the Petition

Signing the petition will also assure you get future updates on the project.