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Can We Protect Mount St. Helens From Strip Mining?

02.26.18

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Can We Protect Mount St. Helens From Strip Mining?

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  • Green River Valley. Photo by Trip Jennings of Balance Media. Provided for use by Cascade Forest Conservancy.- Can We Protect Mount St. Helens From Strip Mining?
  • Fly fishing on the Green River. Photo by Trip Jennings of Balance Media. Provided for use by Cascade Forest Conservancy.- Can We Protect Mount St. Helens From Strip Mining?
  • Wildflowers in the meadow on the Goat Mountain Trail.- Can We Protect Mount St. Helens From Strip Mining?
  • Hiking through an old-growth forest on the Green River Trail.- Can We Protect Mount St. Helens From Strip Mining?
  • Roosevelt elk on the Green River Trail.- Can We Protect Mount St. Helens From Strip Mining?
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It's 2018, and like a blast from the past, hardrock mining is all the rage on public lands in the United States. While the decision to push for uranium mining in Bears Ears National Monument gets significant press, another mining proposal is moving forward at the foot of Mount St. Helens. And yes, there is still time to stop it.

In early 2017, we wrote about the efforts underway to allow a Canadian mining company, Ascot Resources, Ltd., a permit to begin exploratory drilling studies as a prelude to a full-scale mining operation along Goat Mountain and the Green River. With serious pushback against approving the permit from numerous stakeholders led by Cascade Forest Conservancy and Washington Senator Maria Cantwell, and with American Rivers listing the Green River as one of America's most threatened waterways, it seemed inconceivable that both the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management would let it move forward. But this month the U.S. Forest Service approved the project, and given the energy with which the BLM has warmed up expedited permitting for extractive industries on public lands, what seemed unlikely is now on the verge of getting the green light to move forward.

What's at stake is a pristine watershed at the foot of the most active volcano in the Pacific Northwest. It's a place where people hike, fish and hunt -- a place that was transferred to federal ownership via the Land and Water Conservation Fund with the express desire that it remain protected for the people who recreate in it and the wildlife that depend on it. Matt Little, Cascade Forest Conservancy's Executive Director, makes the case even more strongly. "Allowing mining activities in a pristine river valley alongside an active volcano is simply ludicrous," he says, before going on to say his organization will do all it can to stop it.

Past drilling and mining efforts in the valley have all proven unfeasible, a caveat that gives hope that the same will prove true this time around. The valley's remoteness and access challenges, factors that make the area ideal for recreating in relative solitude, mean the infrastructure requirements that would accompany a full-scale mining operation are lacking. But even exploratory drilling in the area would impact its wild nature, and it would likely remove recreation access as well.

Cascade Forest Conservancy is taking the lead on a multi-stakeholder project to stop this mine project. If the drilling permit receives final approval from the BLM, the battle may very well end up in court. But now is the best time to reach out to your elected officials and join the petition to say no to mining on Mount St. Helens. Watch the video above to see just what is at stake. And for more information on how to get involved, visit Cascade Forest's Stop the Mine campaign page. Scroll down to the bottom to use their form to email your representatives.

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