The latest on mining the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness:
The Kootenai National Forest Supervisor just issued a final decision on the massive Rock Creek Mining project proposal. A green light was given and the project may start with an "Evaluation Adit" by mid-February.
The mine intends to employ several hundred people, for about 25 years. This mine would be located in the vicinity of Cliff Lake (popular hiking & backpacking destination) and St. Paul Peak, within the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness area. The project area is very large, encompassing several hundred acres of high mountain peaks and lakes.
The area was used prehistorically by the Kootenai Tribe and is of special significance to them. During past Passport-In-Time, Cabinet Wilderness Archaeology projects, we determined that there are prehistoric sites – cultural remains (artifacts) were located near these high mountain lakes, and in the same areas where people camp today. I am sure that the cultural resource survey, which was conducted for this project, was very inadequate.
One of the major concerns raised with this project, is the possibility of the small lakes subsiding or caving in, as the mining activity will be below them. Other concerns include water quality, with water ending up in the Clark Fork River and Lake Pend Oreille; and potential impacts to Grizzley Bears, Mountain Goats and trout fisheries.
Will recreational use of this wilderness area be withdrawn? This mining is allowed because of the 1872 Mining Laws, which need to be amended.