Glacier Peak Copper Mine finally put to bed
An issue that galvanized hikers and spurred the growth of WTA in the 1960s has been resolved once and for all.
In the 1960s, Kennecott Copper wanted to place an open pit mine deep in the Glacier Peak Wilderness. The mine would have been clearly visible from Image Lake, which boasts the iconic high country reflection of Glacier Peak that has been immortalized in countless photographs by hikers.
WTA was heavily engaged in the fight to stop the mine, rallying hikers to augment the traditional conservation opposition to the project. Kennecott Copper set the project aside when then Senator Henry M. Jackson intervened. Still, in the intervening years, the 372 acres in question have been technically open for mining as a patented claim, although the chances of that happening were remote. In 1986, the Chelan PUD purchased the site to monitor snowpack at nearby Lyman Lake.
With the passage of the Wild Sky Wilderness Act, this site has finally received a permanent reprieve. One of the provisions of the legislation allowed for a swap in which the Forest Service gained a conservation easement on the land in exchange for a 1.8 acre remote telemetry site. Chelan PUD employees will use the exchanged land to monitor snowpack, landing helicopters rather than hiking several miles in snowshoes.
While the chances that a mine could ultimately have been located on this site were small, copper is a very profitable metal. Economic pressures on the mining industry, over time, could have spurred a second look at this ecologically and culturally valuable landscape. The Glacier Peak Wilderness, and the hikers who love it, can let out a long-held breath of relief now that this landscape is permanently protected from the ravages of open-pit mining.