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Methow Headwaters Receives Two Year Protection from Mining Interests

Posted on Dec 30, 2016 in Conservation News, Mining

Today, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) officially announced the segregation notice for 340,000 acres in the Methow Headwaters region of Washington State. This essentially protects the Methow from mining for a two-year period in which these lands are off limits to mining interests while the BLM studies whether permanent protection is warranted. This is a critical step towards vital protections in Washington State that will allow future generations to enjoy Washington’s wild places.

Photo Courtesy of the Methow Headwaters Campaign

Photo Courtesy of the Methow Headwaters Campaign

In May of 2016 Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) introduced the Methow Headwaters Protection Act of 2016 which would protect 340,000 acres of National Forest in the Methow Valley from potential development of a large-scale mine. The legislation, to be considered during the BLMs two year mineral withdrawal, would permanently restrict potential mining related development (including near Flagg Mountain) in order to protect the headwaters of the Methow River and the robust local tourism economy and rural communities in the valley. Read Sen. Murray’s press release.


Back in October Washington Wild, as a member of the Methow Headwaters Campaign, joined 8 other conservation and recreation organizations on a joint comment letter. The letter urged the U.S.  Forest Service to take immediate action upholding their commitment to a mineral withdrawal for the Methow Headwaters region of Washington State. The letter expressed the need to act quickly and protect the Methow from mining interests by officially starting the mineral withdrawal process by the end of the term and prevent facing down another exploratory drilling season on Flagg Mountain.

Nested on the east slope of the North Cascades just outside North Cascades National Park, the Methow Valley and Headwaters region of Washington is one of the state’s most popular destinations. The Methow offers exceptional recreation opportunities, is home to diverse wildlife and is the source of cool, clean waters for famers, residents and fish.

Recently, mining interests have targeted the Methow Valley for exploratory drilling near Flagg Mountain as a preliminary step to developing a mine in the watershed. Mining in the area could have harmful effects on clean water for fish and residents, as well as have negative impacts on recreation and tourism in the Methow Valley which brings nearly 1 million visitors to the area and more than $150 million annually to Okanogan County.

Read the joint comment letter here.