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43 Years After the Mount St. Helens Eruption, the Green River Valley is #NoPlaceForAMine

As we reflect today on the eruption of Mount St. Helens 43 years ago, take a moment to help us ensure that this place remains protected for future generations. Since 2005, we have led local efforts alongside the Cascade Forest Conservancy to oppose exploratory drilling in the Green River Valley of SW Washington. 

Photo: The world-famous pumice plains of Mount St. Helens, Cascade Forest Conservancy

Through securing grassroots support such as endorsements from local businesses and other stakeholders, we have won several key lawsuits, and have thus far, successfully stopped efforts to develop a proposed open-pit copper, gold, and molybdenum hard rock mine. While these legal victories have been critical, there remains a need for a more permanent solution to protect this recovering beloved landscape. To secure these permanent protections, Cascade Forest Conservancy has launched an initiative called the Green River Valley Alliance as part of their ongoing #NoPlaceForAMine campaign.

Working to Secure a Legislative Mineral Withdrawl

This coalition of individuals, businesses, and organizations is working to secure a legislative mineral withdrawal for the Green River Valley. A mineral withdrawal, which is secured through an Act of Congress, is a federal land management tool that prohibits mining activities within a given boundary.

“There are two reasons we’re advocating and working for a legislative mineral withdrawal…” explains CFC’s Campaign Coordinator, Sean Roome, who oversees the Alliance’s work. “For one, this designation, unlike some of the other tools available, would not impact any other activities permitted within the boundary, so there wouldn’t be any changes to what’s currently allowed in terms of backcountry recreation opportunities like hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, hunting, and angling. Other land uses, such as timber harvesting, wouldn’t be impacted either”.

The other reason the Alliance is pursuing a legislative mineral withdrawal, according to Roome, is because of the two ways the federal government can enact this protection, an Act of Congress provides longer-term protections and is much harder for future administrations to reverse than an administrative action.

Sign the Green River Valley Alliance Petition calling on legislators to support mineral withdrawal


Culturally and Ecologically Invaluable

Photo: Mount St. Helens, Cascade Forest Conservancy

Mount St. Helens (Lawetlat’la) is formally registered as a Traditional Cultural Property of both the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation due to its important historical and profound cultural significance to both Tribes. It is a treasured and remote part of the Washington Cascades and supports a large herd of elk, wild steelhead, and some of the only old growth this close to Mount St. Helens to survive the famous 1980 eruption. To those who know, this is a place beloved for its scenic views, remote and peaceful location, and world-class outdoor recreation opportunities.


Working to Secure Outstanding Resource Waters (ORW) Designation 

In addition to supporting mineral withdrawal, Washington Wild is also leading the conversation regarding Outstanding Resource Waters (ORW). Established by the Clean Water Act, ORW designation is an opportunity for states to identify high-quality waters that constitute an outstanding state resource due to their pristine water quality, statewide ecological importance, and unique recreational value. Once a waterway is designated as such, it prohibits future degradation of water quality, such as the mining that is being proposed in the Green River Valley.

Photo: Fishing on the Green River, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers

The headwaters of the Green River are wild and pristine. As it flows downstream into the North Fork Toutle River and Cowlitz River, it provides critical salmon and steelhead habitat and drinking water for downstream communities. As people from across the region come to the Green River Valley to hike, mountain bike, fish, hunt, use the backcountry horse camp and riding trails, or just to get away from it all, they also fuel the local economy which gets a big boost from the tourism and outdoor recreation industries. 

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(We expect the WA Dept. of Ecology to open a formal public comment period regarding the three candidates for ORW designation sometime this summer, at which time we will send action alerts via email. To gain this valuable protection for the Green, Cascade, and Napeequa Rivers, it will be very important for Ecology to hear from as many people as possible who are in favor of ORW designation.)