FSPW’s views on mining

Posted on Friday, May 12th, 2017 by »

FSPW has been asked about our approach to mining issues and we would like to clarify our thoughts and positions on this subject. Our board has considered carefully how we approach the issues of mining and wilderness.

FSPW has built broad and diverse support for our campaign from numerous stakeholders, organizations, businesses and individuals by remaining solely focused on the Scotchman Peaks proposed wilderness. At the same time, we acknowledge the importance of other multiple uses, including timber, mining, grazing and motorized recreation, in other parts of our national forest lands.

We take no position on the two proposed mines in the Cabinets, the Rock Creek and Montanore projects. We have not endorsed or made specific comments about either proposal. Consistent with our policy to focus only on the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness proposal, we do not comment or take positions on issues not directly related to the Scotchmans campaign. So, we will not take a position on these planned mines.

The appearance of videos featuring Doug Ferrell and Phil Hough on a Facebook page focused on the proposed Rock Creek Mine, now owned by Hecla Mining, has caused angst among some of our supporters as well as other environmental organizations in Western Montana and North Idaho. We apologize for the misunderstanding this caused. The context in which the videos were displayed unfortunately did not make clear that our comments were only about the Troy Mine. This allowed some who saw it to draw inaccurate conclusions. Hecla quickly complied with our request to discontinue all use of the videos.

The statements in the videos were focused on the experiences we have had with Revett Minerals, which operated the Troy mine. This mine shares a boundary with the proposed Scotchmans Wilderness. We had an open and transparent working relationship with Revett, took an interest in their Troy operation and reviewed the performance of the mine. Over the years, we observed that Revett has demonstrated a sincere commitment to protect the environment and community values. Their actions have gone beyond the requirements of permits and regulations to protect and enhance these values. We have observed no degradation of the wilderness resource as a result of the operation of the Troy mine.

Hecla has since purchased the Troy Mine property from Revett. They are our neighbors now, working on the state-supervised process of reclamation of the Troy mine. Hecla has also shown strong interest in community concerns, and commitment to responsible mining. We look forward to ongoing conversations with them as well, to protect the wilderness and natural values of the Scotchmans and surrounding area.

Revett has pledged to permanently dedicate the 300-acre tailings area as well as the 400 acres of their Troy mining claims for wildlife habitat, free of development and Hecla has agreed to honor this commitment when reclamation is complete. Protection of these areas represents a significant favorable impact to wildlife, including grizzly bears and other species who use grizzly habitat. Many experts believe that the wildlife habitat secured by Revett means the mine represents a net gain for grizzlies.

The location of the tailings area in a narrow part of the Bull River Valley makes it uniquely valuable as a wildlife corridor between the Cabinet Wilderness and the Scotchmans proposed wilderness. When the mine is reclaimed and long gone, this valuable wildlife habitat can provide benefits well into the future.

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About The Author:

Britta Mireley lives in Sagle with her husband and daughter. She's using her background in marketing and tourism to save the wild Scotchmans so her daughter and someday, her daughter's children, can discover nature in its purest form. Britta also serves on the Bonner Community Housing Agency board and enjoys nerding out over historic downtowns.

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