Giddy up: Kore Mining proposed mining site comments due by Thursday, May 13

Note Hot Creek on the lower righthand corner of this map. (Courtesy United States Department of Agriculture)

All,

I hope this email finds you well! I am emailing you today to update you on the Kore mining proposal located in the Inyo National Forest. I would like to let you know that our office has met with both Kore Mining and the U.S. Forest Service to get a briefing on this proposed mining site and learn more about the project.

As you may know, U.S. Forest Service is the federal authority in charge of the land in question. Attached you will find a U.S. Forest Service scoping letter describing the project proposal and what processes are being done to ensure that any mining is done in the most environmentally and sustainable way possible. I also wanted to provide you with the link provided by the U.S. Forest Service to accept comments and input from the local community and interested parties. https://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public//CommentInput?Project=59294

While I will be continuing work with both U.S. Forest Service and Kore mining to ensure that your concerns are heard, I highly recommend that you use the link provided to comment on the project as well. While you will be able to use the link provided to comment throughout the process, initial scoping comments should be submitted by Thursday May 13.

On behalf of Congressman Obernolte, I would like to thank you for reaching out to our office with your comments. We will continue to update you as new information is provided.

All the best,

Reid Dagul

Senior Legislative Assistant to Congressman Jay Obernolte, California Eighth District

Phone: 202-225-5861

________________________________________

Dear Interested Citizen, 

The Mammoth Ranger District of the Inyo National Forest is initiating the analysis process for the  proposed Long Valley Exploration Drilling Project proposed by Kore USA Ltd. (Kore Mining). The  project boundary area proposed for exploration is within a claim block controlled by Kore Mining and encompasses 230 acres in Section 26, Township 3 South, Range 28 East, Mono County, California. It is  located approximately 6.2 miles east of the town of Mammoth Lakes and 45 miles north of the town of  Bishop, California (Figure 1). 

At this time, we are opening a scoping period to ask for your help in determining the scope of the  analysis. 

Kore Mining proposes to conduct mineral exploration activities at the claim for a period of less than one  year. Ground disturbing activities proposed consist of drilling with heavy equipment, the creation of  fourteen drill pads and the use of existing roads and temporary access routes. The total new land  disturbance anticipated is 0.93 acres. Project implementation would occur in the summer of 2021.  Reclamation of all impacted areas would commence immediately following the completion of drilling  activities. No production or mining would be included in this project. It would be for exploration only, to  determine the mineral potential of the site. Any actual production proposed in the future would be  analyzed according to National Environmental Policy Act guidelines at that time. 

A total of fourteen pads measuring 30 feet by 50 feet (1500 square feet) each are proposed for  construction within in the claim area. Up to three core borings would be drilled on each pad. The drill  pads would also be utilized for staging all vehicles and equipment. Each pad would be surrounded by  temporary fencing during the work. Container trucks would be used to hold and transport all drill cuttings  and muds offsite and at an appropriate disposal facility. Access to drill pads would require the temporary  re-opening of 11 segments (1,849 total feet in length and 10 feet wide.) of non-system Forest Service  roads for the duration of the project. All of the temporary access routes would follow pre-existing non system routes that are currently blocked and/or closed. Temporary access routes and drill pads would be  cleared of vegetation by hand cutting or mowing with a small tractor and graded level to accommodate  the drilling equipment. Six inches of topsoil removed from each drill pad would be salvaged and stored  on site for use in reclamation of the pad at the end of the drilling project. 

After drilling is complete, the drill pads would be reclaimed by spreading the reserved topsoil,  recontouring to approximate original landforms and planting with a Forest Service-approved native seed  mix. Temporary access routes would be reclaimed using a spring-tooth harrow, or similar device, to  relieve surface compaction and then seeded with the same approved seed mix. Monitoring of the  revegetation success would continue for three years after seeding. Additional details about the project can  also be viewed on the project website at

https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=59294. 

This proposal is being considered in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  The Forest will analyze any potential environmental impacts proposed in the plan of operations and establish any terms or conditions under which the mining operations may be conducted in order to  minimize adverse impacts to surface resources (36 CFR 228.8). Surveys for cultural and biological  resources will be completed before implementation, to ensure the project protects resources and meets the  Inyo National Forest land management plan and other applicable laws, regulations and policy. It is  anticipated that this project can be completed under a categorical exclusion under the category established  under 36 CFR 220.6 (e)(8), because it is a “short term (1 year or less) mineral investigation and incidental  support activities”. Appropriate and legally required environmental studies and consultations will be  completed in support of the project to inform the decision, and to determine whether extraordinary  circumstances exist that could require preparation of an Environmental Assessment or Environmental  Impact Statement. 

The proposed action is currently available for a 30-day public scoping period. With this scoping notice  we would like to invite your comments regarding issues, opportunities, concerns, and suggestions for the  proposed project. You may submit comments on the project website at:  

https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=59294.

Go to “Comment/Object on Project” on the right side of  the page and you can type in your comments or attach a file.  

While public participation in this analysis is welcome at any time, comments received by May 6, 2021 will be most useful in informing the analysis. Please contact Colleen Garcia, Minerals Program  Manager, 351 Pacu Lane Suite 200 Bishop, CA 93514, by email at colleen.garcia@usda.gov and/or by  phone at (760) 920-0285 for questions about the project or scoping process, or if you cannot submit your  comment on the project website. 

I appreciate your interest in the management of the Inyo National Forest. 

Sincerely, 

GORDON P. MARTIN 

District Ranger 

The story of steelhead, one sign at a time

Editorial: Protect Hot Creek from gold mining

The author is a popular guide in the Mammoth Lakes area. (Jim Burns)

If it’s not one battle to protect the fisheries in the Eastern Sierra, it’s something else. While I’m not the longest standing fly-fishing guide operating in the area, I’ve been doing this long enough now to fully realize the fights. It could be over water during drought years, battling bureaucracies with proposed reg changes, or putting a spotlight on the destruction of dispersed camping.

Last summer at Hot Creek, I watched an angler 50 feet downstream of me drop his drawers and empty his bowels in the grass 15 feet from the water. I was guiding two clients. They weren’t surprised when I asked the guy what he was doing, then asked him to never return to the Eastern Sierra again. I’d take that experience last summer on Hot Creek any day of the week over the looming threat we all now face of Canadian-based operation Kore Mining proposing taking one giant shit right next to my most favorite fishery in the world: Hot Creek.

Mining laws today date back a minute. 1872. The General Mining Act of 1872 was written when miners looked for metals with pack mules and handpicks. It’s an outdated set of laws that no mining company in the country wants to fix. Prospecting minerals on federal lands can pay big bucks. But mining is different today than it was in the past, and that begs consideration of every new mining proposal that comes up.

Fortunately, common sense still dictates that companies don’t have a complete carte blanche to dig up federal soil just anywhere. One of the most controversial mining proposals of current times is that of Pebble Mine which ended last November when the Trump Administration killed off hopes of digging up Bristol Bay, Alaska. Pebble Mine wanted to extract gold, copper, and molybdenum. Bristol Bay is also home of one of the largest salmon runs in the world, a money maker for both commercial fishers and its tourism-based economy. Every proposal faces a different set of environmental concerns, some benign, and some truly legitimate.

Kore Mining is interested in drilling the ground around Hot Creek to look for gold. Sitting on claims several decades old, and a budget of $8 million, they intend to disrupt about a five-acre region of pristine forest located directly behind Hot Creek. If gold is found, they’d bid the claim to a major company to open pit heap leach gold mine the region. USFS is still cleaning up pollutants from the Mill City mining which happened over a hundred years ago. Cabin owners have been kicked out of their cabins and denied rights to their property. We haven’t even resolved this mess, and yet mining is being proposed again?

What could possibly go wrong? Well, first of all, where does Kore Mining intend to get its water to drill? If they do drill and hit the water table, waste water will contain arsenic, boron, and chlorine. This is directly above one of the region’s best fisheries, Hot Creek. I’ll also add the fact that water eventually flows into the Owens River, Crowley Lake, and then Los Angeles kitchen sinks.

Kore Mining doesn’t use pack animals. Extensive truck traffic hauling water and waste in and out on roads that are now overgrown will create noise, light, and air pollution. I don’t believe guests staying at Hot Creek Ranch envision a week of fly fishing accompanied with the sound of drilling. Athletes training at Whitmore would breathe air pollution. Let’s suppose gold is found. What do we have? One large open pit mine.

How’s the air pollution working for people living near Owens Lake? The area being proposed to explore is wildlife habitat. Deer, sage grouse, etc. Deer tags aren’t as easy to come by as they used to be, and the sage grouse is a protected bird. I can’t imagine mining that close to Hot Creek Hatchery would be good for an already embattled entity. Thousands and thousands of visitors walk Hot Creek each summer to see the geothermal area. I see them when I’m fishing and guiding. They end up with this magnificent view of the fields and Mammoth Mountain. Now substitute that with an open pit mine.

What can you do? Be vocal. Be loud. Be objective. This simply can’t happen. You can start by writing USFS Mineral Programs Manager Colleen Garcia (colleen.garcia@usda.gov) before the deadline of May 6, 2021. Please also contact Reid Dagul (Reid.Dagul@mail.house.gov) and express your objection. Share this information. Get in touch with organizations fighting this fight. Sierra Club and Trout Unlimited are just a couple of many. This is the biggest fight Hot Creek has seen yet, and it has to win.

Chris Leonard
Mammoth Lakes, California fly fishing guide & activist

With Opening Day in sight, get to know the new fishing regs

Just like you eventually replaced your old neoprene waders from back in the day, it’s time to get up-to-speed on the new fishing regs. (credit: Jim Burns)

From Trout Unlimited California and CalTrout

Dear fellow advocates for California’s trout and salmon,

On March 1st, 2021 the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) implemented new Inland Trout Sportfishing regulations that will change the angling season(s) and experience on many waters. CDFW will also, as directed by the California Fish and Wildlife Commission, changed the general statewide fishing regulations on March 1.The final regulation packet can be found here.

Regulations for your favorite trout streams may have changed so please review this packet before your next visit to the river.As many of you are aware, Trout Unlimited California and California Trout have followed the state’s regulatory change process closely, and engaged in multiple ways with CDFW and the Commission to make sure that our wild trout populations are conserved and that our best special regulations waters retain their unique character and fishing experience.

Since the initial proposal for simplifying the Inland Trout Regulations was released in early 2019, TU and CalTrout worked collaboratively to deliver our members’ values and priorities to both CDFW staff and to the Fish and Wildlife Commission, throughout the public comment period.

Our principal goals were:to protect and enhance populations and habitat of native and wild trout;to support the Department’s goals with respect to establishment and management of designated Wild Trout waters;to support the Department’s goals with respect to the R3 program (which aims to recruit and retain more purchasers of California fishing and hunting licenses, in part through improving angling opportunities statewide);to honor long-established angling traditions and practices for specific waters, where these are consistent with broader resource management goals;To improve access for angling where appropriate or critically needed.Some of our priorities are reflected in the new regulations. In particular, the new general statewide regulations now require catch-and-release only, no-bait practices for the winter and early spring, in all streams.

Such measures are appropriate during that season, when most trout species are vulnerable as they congregate and spawn. Previously, the statewide regulations allowed a 5 fish take, 10 fish bag limit year-round with no gear restrictions.However, the final simplified regulations do not go far enough to protect our wild trout waters, especially given the impacts on coldwater fisheries of the hotter and drier conditions we are projected to experience in California.

We must manage our trout resources more flexibly, with better monitoring of wild and native trout population trends, if we want future generations of anglers to have the same opportunities we do today.Moreover, the State’s focus on “simplifying” freshwater angling regulations limited their willingness to keep some of the special regulations that have helped define the fishing experience on many iconic streams. CDFW and the Commission should re-visit and revise the new regulations for the following to better conserve native and wild trout populations or to enable better access throughout the year (there are likely other waters that also merit adjustments to their regulations).

Upper Sacramento River: Rather than three different regulations for different stream segments for this famous, wild trout-dominated water, we recommend a unified regulation: year-round, 2 fish bag, barbless artificial lures only. This would maintain harvest opportunities while adequately protecting large spawning fish that migrate up from Shasta Lake. Such a regulation would better meet the primary management objective of the 2000 Fishery Management Plan for the Upper Sacramento River (“to develop a world-class wild trout fishery”).

East Walker River: This trophy wild trout water, by long tradition primarily a catch and release fishery, has had a year-round season—until now. The new regulations close the “EW” from November 15th through the last Saturday in April, and allow increased harvest (from 1 trout to 2 trout) for the full open season. For this iconic water we support catch-and-release angling year-round with barbless artificial lures.

Mokelumne River: The new, simplified regulations allow for harvest of wild trouton “The Moke.” Our proposal is for catch-and-release angling year-round with artificial, barbless lures from the Highway 49 Bridge downstream to Lake Pardee at Middle Bar Bridge. That would make The Moke the sole catch-and-release only stream in the Sierra foothills, while maintaining harvest off Middle Bar Bridge (provides angling opportunities for persons with disabilities).

East Fork Carson River: The new regulations allow harvest of wild trout in this river downstream of Hangman Bridge (traditionally catch-and-release only water). We support a return to catch-and-release regulations with artificial lures and barbless hooks from Hangman Bridge to the Nevada state line. This management approach would best meet two primary goals under the 1979 East Fork Carson River Wild Trout Management Plan.

Fall River Complex (includes Ahjumawi, Eastman Lake, Lava Springs, and Bear Creek): This famous fishery, one of California’s few true spring creeks, now allows harvest and use of bait. We support a year-round angling season here with single barbless, artificial lures only and zero take.Lastly, the new, simplified Inland Trout Regulations continue the State’s over-reliance on hatchery production and stocking to provide trout fishing opportunity in many waters. This model is outdated, costly, and inconsistent with other resource management and conservation goals and policies.TU and CalTrout will continue to work with CDFW and the Fish and Wildlife Commission to monitor the performance of the new simplified regulations and to revisit and revise them as needed to protect native and wild trout and the angling experience on certain waters.

We will hold CDFW accountable to do post-regulation change monitoring and creel surveys, provide support for monitoring through our staffs and memberships, and keep an open dialogue with CDFW staff. We will also lead efforts to submit petitions for changes to the new regulations, as needed or appropriate.We appreciate your continued support for our advocacy on behalf of California’s native and wild trout, and to preserve the unique character and angling experience of certain streams.

For more information, or to convey a concern, please contact TU’s Sam Sedillo (ssedillo@tu.org) or CalTrout’s Patrick Samuel (psamuel@caltrout.org).