Green River among America’s Most Endangered Rivers

Mine near volcano would threaten drinking water and wildlife

May 17th, 2011

Washington – A Canadian corporation recently started exploratory drilling for what could become a 3,000-acre mine near the headwaters of the Green River, despite concerns about the mine’s proximity to the active Mount St. Helens volcano. The threat from a mine to drinking water supplies and the region’s unique ecology has earned the Green River a spot on the annual list of America’s Most Endangered RiversTM, a report issued by the conservation group American Rivers.

“Mining, volcanoes, and drinking water supplies don’t mix,” said Darcy Nonemacher, Associate Director of Washington Water Policy for American Rivers.  “There’s so much at stake in the Green River Valley.  Not only does this river basin provide clean drinking water for local communities, it provides incredible opportunities for recreation, scientific research, and habitat for wildlife like salmon and elk.”

In addition to concerns over contaminating drinking water supplies, a mine would also impact popular recreation sites and patches of ancient forest that survived the eruption of Mount St. Helens. 

“Contrary to claims by a mining company executive that the drilling is in a ‘devastated area’, Mount St. Helens and the Green River valley is a beautiful region that is popular for recreation. No private company has a right to degrade this natural and cultural treasure to make a buck,” said Craig Lynch from Clark Skamania Flyfishers. “I have been hunting and fishing in this area for 25 years and I hope future generations have the opportunity to do the same.”

American Rivers and its partners are calling on the Forest Service to give local communities a voice and consider public input on the mining activities.

“It’s disturbing that there has been no opportunity for the community to provide input about the exploratory drilling,” says Lisa Moscinski, Deputy Director with the Gifford Pinchot Task Force. “Public outcry killed the last mining proposal in this area for good reason: the Green River valley and Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument are not an appropriate location for a mine.”

American Rivers and the Gifford Pinchot Task Force are asking the Forest Service to explore the possibility of acquiring the company’s mineral rights, due to what it considers irresolvable conflicts between mining and public interests.  In addition, the conservation groups are asking Congress to introduce and pass a bill to protect the upper ten miles of the Green River under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. This would protect the Green River’s free-flowing nature, water quality, recreational opportunities, and other nationally-significant values for future generations.

 

About America’s Most Endangered Rivers

For 26 years, American Rivers has sounded the alarm on 360 rivers through our America’s Most Endangered Rivers report.  The report is not a list of the “worst” or most polluted rivers, but is a call to action for rivers at a crossroads, whose fates will be determined in the coming year. Over the years, the report has helped spur many successes including the removal of outdated dams, the protection of rivers with Wild and Scenic designations, and the prevention of harmful development and pollution.

American Rivers’ staff and scientific advisors review nominations for the following criteria:

  • A major decision that the public can help influence in the coming year
  • The significance of the river to people and wildlife
  • The magnitude of the threat, especially in light of climate change

For the third consecutive year, America’s Most Endangered Rivers™ is sponsored by The Orvis Company, which donates 5% of their pre-tax profits annually to protect nature.


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About American Rivers

About American Rivers

American Rivers protects wild rivers, restores damaged rivers, and conserves clean water for people and nature. Since 1973, American Rivers has protected and restored more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and an annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers® campaign. Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 200,000 members, supporters, and volunteers.

Rivers connect us to each other, nature, and future generations. Find your connections at AmericanRivers.org, Facebook.com/AmericanRivers, and Twitter.com/AmericanRivers.