The next Pebble Mine? Strip Mining Threatens Wild Rivers in Oregon and California
Recently the Obama Administration showed some real leadership starting a process that will hopefully put the final nail in the coffin of the Pebble Mine project in Alaska’s salmon-rich Bristol Bay.
Huge props go to Trout Unlimited and many other groups who did all of the heavy lifting on this great effort. American Rivers played a pivotal role early on developing the idea to pursue this protection under the Clean Water Act and sharing all of our expertise and experience with the Save Bristol Bay campaign. We used this same strategy to kill an ill-fated project to destroy 200,000 acres of wetlands in the Mississippi Delta and thought it would be perfect fit for Bristol Bay.
While the Administration is on the right track in Alaska, they continue to drag their feet in Oregon where a new Pebble Mine-style mining threat is emerging in equally pristine rivers. Industrial strip mining threatens clean water and salmon and steelhead in the wild Rogue and Smith River watersheds. These mines are proposed in some of the most pristine, wild river landscapes in the lower 48. Since everything, including mine waste flows downstream, the mine threat has awakened Californians who are rightly concerned about what strip mining upstream could do to their beloved Smith River.
While Smith River is protected in California as a part of the Smith River National Recreation Area, the portion threatened by the mine in Oregon is not. While exploratory drilling for the mines is expected soon, there is still time for the Obama Administration to act by working with Senator Ron Wyden and Rep. Peter DeFazio to withdraw the area from mining. Immediately. These endangered rivers can’t wait.