Methow Update: Mining Suspended, Public Input Needed

The Bureau of Land Management issued a two-year "timeout" on mining in the Methow Valley. Now, that agency wants public input as they evaluate an extension that would make the area off-limits to mining for 20 years.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
January 30, 2017

We asked, and our land managers listened. On Friday, December 30, 2016, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued a two-year segregation notice that temporarily protects 340,000 acres of the Methow Valley from future mining claims. The action blocks the proposed copper claim overlooking the town of Mazama for two years, providing us with a critical period to make the case for the long-term protection of the Methow Valley.

Thank you to everyone who signed the petition and helped protect some of our state’s most treasured lands and waters. Your voices were an important part of securing this action.

Now, the governing agencies – the U.S. Forest Service and BLM – will evaluate a possible 20-year administrative mineral withdrawal that would extend the protections

As part of the evaluation process, the BLM is accepting public input. Let's make sure they hear how much the Methow Valley means to us. Take a moment today to write a letter. The form linked below makes it easy to send a message straight to the BLM office. The form also includes a thank you message to Senators Murray and Cantwell to show support for their efforts to permanently protect the Methow Valley through legislation.

Submit A Letter


Permanent Protection

A 20-year withdrawal will allow Congressional leaders to work on a permanent solution. In May, Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) co-sponsored the Methow Headwaters Protection Act, which would protect the lands from large-scale mining for perpetuity. In a joint press release, the senators celebrated BLM’s actions and pledged to keep moving the legislation forward. The withdrawal also received praise from local state Senator, Linda Evans Parlette, R-Wenatchee, who commented, “The community in the Methow Valley is united in its desire to maintain the area’s rural character, and safeguard the lands and waters at the heart of the local economy.”    

Background

For those new to the issue, here’s the gist: A Canadian company has filed for permits to conduct exploratory drilling in the heart of the Methow Valley. The claim is the first step in what could lead to a large scale, open pit copper mine (roughly 6-miles long). In response, thousands of people who live, work, and play in the region have come together to form the Methow Headwaters Campaign.

The Mountaineers have been honored to contribute to the campaign. Located in the eastern foothills of the North Cascades, the area’s towering peaks and weaving tributaries offer world class adventuring. The Methow embodies The Mountaineers’ mission to protect the wild places where we play. This is where we climb, ski, hike, paddle, and snowshoe – just earlier this month our volunteers organized a winter trails weekend in partnership with many local organizations and businesses. Furthermore, this watershed sustains critical wildlife  habitat and a local economy based on outdoor recreation, scenic tourism, and agriculture.

Submit A Letter


Stay Tuned

During the comment period, there will also be a public hearing. The date and location haven't been announced, but we'll spread the word as soon as we hear.