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Washington Wild Coordinates Letter Calling for Environmental Impact Statement on Proposed Exploratory Drilling Near Buckhorn Mountain

Posted on Sep 8, 2022 in Conservation News, Mining, WA Wild Blog

Buckhorn Wilderness Area by Deanna Butcher

On September 5, Washington Wild sent a letter to the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) undersigned by  17 conservation and recreation organizations outlining concerns for a proposed exploratory drilling near Buckhorn Mountain. 

The USFS released a Scoping Letter in August announcing that the Colville National Forest is considering a proposal from Adamera Minerals Corporation to move forward with exploratory drilling at six sites near Buckhorn Mountain in Okanogan County. 

The Scoping Letter indicates that the USFS plans to move forward with reviewing the proposal as a Categorical Exclusion (CE) for exploratory mining activities that last less than one year. With a Categorical Exclusion, the project could move forward without an environmental impact analysis from NEPA. 

Using a CE instead of a full NEPA review is inappropriate in this case because the proposed Project is the continuation of previous exploration in essentially the same general area. And further, the actual time to complete the project, including reclamation, monitoring, and mitigation, will take longer than a year. Therefore, the the comment letter sent by Washington Wild asks that an Environmental Assessment or Environmental Impact Statement be completed before moving forward.

The concerned organizations point out that the Scoping Letter fails to consider the cumulative impacts past efforts to exploratory drill or lease areas for mining in the areas adjacent to Buckhorn mine have had, or the significant violations and abandoned environmental impact statements from previous Corporations looking to drill in this area.

Before moving forward, the cumulative impacts of new exploratory impacts in an area that already has a abandoned, leaching mine need to be understood, particularly impacts on water (including ground and surface), air, recreation, wildlife, transportation, and scenic and cultural resources.