Take Action to Protect the Methow Valley from Mining
Following incredible community support in 2016, Methow Valley closed 2016 with a victory for long-term protection against mining for the region’s recreation lands.
Following incredible community support in 2016, Methow Valley is within reach of a victory for long-term protection against mining for the region’s recreation lands.
On December 30, Department of the Interior began a two-year planning period to evaluate a potential 20-year mineral withdrawal for the 340,000-acre Methow Headwaters region. This supports S. 2991 (or the Methow Headwaters Protection Act) introduced by Senators Patty Murray Maria Cantwell (D-WA) last May.
The campaign was in response to an exploratory drilling proposal from a Canadian mining company on Flagg Mountain above Mazama to evaluate the area’s copper and gold potential. The area lies below the popular Goat Peak Lookout trail and near Mazama’s famous climbing destination, Goat Wall.
Advocates were concerned that a mine in the area could threaten the waters salmon and area farmers rely on, in addition to negatively impacting the outdoor recreation economy. Outdoor recreation contributes more than $150 million to Okanogan County each year, supporting hundreds of local jobs.
Mining on pause during two-year process
Washington Trails Association joined more than 1135 local businesses and 35 local, state, and national organizations in support of the campaign.
Over the next two years, the U.S. Forest Service will work with the Bureau of Land Management to conduct a public outreach and environmental planning process to evaluate the withdrawal proposal. During this period, no new mining claims can be staked in the area (essentially a “timeout”). After the planning process, the Department of the Interior will issue a decision to deny or approve the withdrawal for up to 20 years. If protected, the Methow Headwaters would be closed to any new mining activity for up to 20 years.
Support the mineral withdrawal by March 30
BLM is taking public comment on a mineral withdrawal for the Methow Headwaters. It’s imperative that the BLM hear from everyone who cares about the Methow Valley and its critical headwaters. Comments are due March 30.