Category: Call to Action

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 

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

Gehry’s LA River plan doesn’t include fish

Burn! Slowing down this carp old school gave me a hot palm way back in 2014. (Jim Burns)

I think I’ve been avoiding posting about this because it just seems so discouraging. During the pandemic year, we’ve all needed a lift. But I can’t avoid it any longer. After so many years of advocacy for the LA River from, for example, Friends of the Los Angeles River (FoLAR) and Heal the Bay, to transform it from miles of concrete into a robust ecological space for surrounding communities as well as all Angelinos, now we have a celebrity-fueled vision to create elevated platform parks.

Talented as he is, celebrity architect Frank Gehry is clearly the wrong person to redesign our city waterway. Here is a letter to the editor printed in today’s Los Angeles Times in response to its opinion piece, “A river renewal plan to benefit the Gateway Cities.

Mark C. Salvaggio writes: ” I have seen this so-called river plan. Lets MacAdams would be rolling over in his grave if he saw it. He started Friends of the Los Angeles River and was a mild-mannered poet and outdoors type of guy. MacAdams never sought to develop the L.A. River into an urban spectacle as envisioned by architect Frank Gehry. This plan would require billions of dollars and would destroy the “parkway” vision of MacAdams. This is what happens when big shots grab onto a community-based idea.”

When I searched the word “fish” in the recently released LA River Master Plan, I found three references: one to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, then these two mentions.

“Along the LA River, access points take on many different forms. Following the advocacy that led to the LA River’s designation as a federally protected waterway in 2010, there are now two section of the river designated as River Recreation Zones created to allow access into the river for kayaking, canoeing, and fishin (sic).”

“The 11.3 miles of soft-bottomed section (portions of the channel with earthen bottom) at Sepulveda Basin, The Glendale Narrows and the tidal estuary are the most ecologically healthy; however, much of the river corridor continues to support algae, insects, fish, and local and migratory birds.”

That’s literally it. Three mentions of fishing, one part of a state agency’s official name. Incredible.

On a recent fly-fishing trip to the awesome Southern Sierra, the guide I was with told me that the LA is now a destination spot for fly fishers who wanted to test their skill against out infamous carp. Celebrities now fish for carp; hip web publishers ballyhoo it, and generally speaking its cred has come a long way from when I started this blog more than 10 years ago.

So, if you love fishing and don’t want to drive for hours to find a decent spot to toss a fly, please take a few minutes, click on the LA River Master Plan above and comment. We all need to voice our opinion that this plan is going in the exact opposite direction it needs to go. I mean we already have a guarantee from the U.S. Army corps to restore a wide swatch of the river to its natural state. Yes, the money has languished in the Congressional coffers for years, but it has still been approved.

Please take a moment. Tell the city we want to have more areas to fish, not fewer, and certainly not to have to go underneath elevated park platforms to do it.

For a primer, listen to KPCC’s Larry Mantle’s “Air Talk” about the LA that runs around 20 minutes.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Stand up for Bristol Bay

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(Courtesy Backcountry Hunters and Anglers)

Pebble Mine is dangerously close to becoming a reality.
Take action now

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers just released its final environmental impact statement for the Pebble Mine — the last step in securing a permit for a dangerous mine in our most important salmon fishery. Take a stand for Bristol Bay and tell Congress, President Trump and the EPA to veto this project using the resources below!

Why Save Bristol Bay

Sportsmen and women from across the world dream of fishing Bristol Bay’s wild rivers, which support the world’s largest remaining wild salmon fishery, 35 fish species (including all five species of Pacific salmon) and nearly half of wild sockeye populations. Located in southwest Alaska, Bristol Bay also provides undisturbed wildlife habitat for moose, caribou, black bear and large populations of migratory waterfowl.

For generations, this unparalleled watershed has been one of North America’s renewable resources, providing dependable employment for more than 14,000 people who are currently rely on Bristol Bay’s renowned sportfishing, hunting and outdoor recreation economy. Bristol Bay’s rich natural resources are Alaska’s economic lifeblood. Moreover, this watershed is foundational to the cultural heritage of Native Alaskans.

However, a proposed copper and gold mine threatens this unique and treasured landscape. The Pebble Mine would be one of the largest gold, copper and molybdenum mines in the world. The mineral deposit being targeted sits in the heart of salmon country in the headwaters of the famed Kvichak and Nushagak Rivers. One natural disaster could cause catastrophic damage to the watershed and wipe out the livelihoods of tens of thousands.

History

Minerals in Bristol Bay were first discovered 30 years ago by Canadian mining company Conoco, though it was not until 2007 when the Pebble Partnership was formed that a formal mining proposal in Bristol Bay was put forth. Soon thereafter, the environmental review process for development of the mine commenced. In 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency began reviewing the Clean Water Act 404 permit.

Through the EPA’s extensive review process, scientists found that development of the Pebble mining project would result in the following:

— direct loss of 55 to 85 miles of streams, 4 to 6.7 square miles of wetlands and, if fully developed, a potential loss of up to 114 miles of stream and 30 square miles of wild country for tailings storage facilities;

— 10.7 billion tons of mine waste, 20 times the size of all mines in Alaska (3,000 pounds of waste rock for every person on the planet);
— toxic mine waste stored behind a 740 foot high, 4-mile-long tailing dam – the largest earthen dam in the world, located upstream of the world’s largest salmon run;

— construction of a 100-mile road, 100-mile slurry pipeline and a power plant big enough to power Anchorage – all to open a 54 square mile mining district.

In 2017, the EPA waffled on whether to act on this science by proceeding with the Clean Water Act determination but instead vowed to carry on with the review process.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decided to move ahead by releasing its draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) and most recently, its final EIS for the proposed Pebble Mine. The FEIS release starts a 30-day wait period before the decision to issue or deny a permit for the Pebble mining project is made. Public comments are no longer being accepted during this process, and we could expect a decision as early as August.

This environmental analysis evaluated risks, impacts and benefits. According to the FEIS, phase one of the proposed copper and gold mine project would undermine Alaska’s thriving salmon fishery and damage 4,614 of acres of wetlands and 191 miles of streams. Many more miles of streams and thousands of additional acres of wetlands would be permanently ruined, resulting in irreversible and damaging impacts to fisheries, the ecosystem and the local outdoor recreation economy.

How You Can Help

Join Backcountry Hunters and Anglers in encouraging your lawmakers, President Trump and EPA Administrator Wheeler to conserve Bristol Bay, deny the Pebble Mine permit and stand with their constituents in protecting our economies and ensuring the future of our hunting and fishing traditions. Click here to send your message of support (at bottom left of page.)

Help BLM select an Alabama Hills plan

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Movie Magic: The Alabama Hills outside of Lone Pine, California, encompass more than 29,000 acres of public land that is well known for its mix of scenic, cultural, geological, educational, biological, historical, recreational, cinematographic and scientific values. (Courtesy Friends of the Inyo)

BISHOP, California. – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Bishop Field Office is seeking public input for the future management of the Alabama Hills near Lone Pine in Inyo County. Today’s release of an environmental assessment lays out three proposed alternatives and begins a 30-day public review period that ends on August 7, 2020.

Set between the jagged peaks of the Sierra Nevada and the Owens Valley, the Alabama Hills are a unique formation of rounded rocks and eroded hills that encompass more than 29,000 acres of public land that is well known for its mix of scenic, cultural, geological, educational, biological, historical, recreational, cinematographic, and scientific values. In March 2019, President Trump signed Public Law 116-9 (P.L. 116-9), also known as the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, which designated 18,745 acres within the Alabama Hills as a National Scenic Area. The BLM is currently preparing a management plan for the Scenic Area and adjacent public lands in the Alabama Hills Special Recreation Management Area.

Implementing P.L. 116-9 is a top priority for the Department of the Interior as we work to strike a proper balance for land and resource management, increase access for hunting, fishing, and recreation, and create economic prosperity, while protecting and preserving America’s treasures.

“We welcome continued public engagement in our effort to develop a comprehensive plan for management of the area,” says Bishop Field Manager Steve Nelson. “We also look forward to completing the plan and working with the Alabama Hills Stewardship Group, the local tribe, and the Lone Pine community to implement management strategies that will ensure the long-term protection, conservation, public access, and responsible use of this magnificent landscape.”

Written comments on the proposed alternatives in the environmental assessment can be submitted via email to: blm_ca_alabama_hills_planning@blm.gov; by fax: 760-872-5055; or by mail to: BLM Bishop Field Office, Attn: Alabama Hills Management Plan, 351 Pacu Lane, Suite 100, Bishop, CA 93514.

Before including addresses, phone numbers, email addresses or other personal identifying information in a comment, commenters should be aware that the entire comment, including personal identifying information, could be made publicly available at any time. While the public may ask the BLM to withhold personal identifying information from public review, the BLM cannot guarantee that it will be able to do so.

For specific questions, please call Project Manager Monica Buhler at (760) 872-5000.

Check out the management alternatives here.

Salmon Dave’s fundraiser for Bristol Bay Heritage Land Trust

Bristol
Artwork by Ray Troll

By David Del Rio

Guest Contributor

The salmon is in tears … and so am I. We all are greatly negatively impacted by the loss of the wild salmon and its habitat.

A man made perfect storm of destruction is aimed directly for the salmons’ home and natural habitat, Bristol Bay and its tributaries.

This Category FIVE Storm of devastating environmental destruction of the Salmon is being done by the President in the name of exploitation of mineral resources at Pebble Mine. In a word… GREED!

This from CNN: The EPA told staff scientists that it was no longer opposing a controversial Alaska mining project that could devastate one of the world’s most valuable wild salmon fisheries, just one day after President Trump met with Alaska’s governor, CNN has learned. https://cnn.it/20MAxg5

If you wish to join the fight against the shameful actions of this administration, then please visit this website to become informed:
http://www.savebristolbay.org/

If you wish to support the fight directly, please help me in raising money for Bristol Bay Heritage Land Trust where your contribution will make a direct impact.

Every little bit helps. The salmon and I both Thank you for your support. I’ve included information about Bristol Bay Heritage Land Trust below.

PLEASE share this post! It is set to ‘public’ so that anyone can view or share it.

The Bristol Bay Heritage Land Trust is dedicated to the preservation and protection of salmon and wildlife habitat of the greater Bristol Bay region of southwest Alaska, including the Wood/Tikchik State Park and the Togiak National Wildlife Refuge. To learn more visit our website, http://www.bristolbaylandtrust.org/

Today the fly fishing community is coming together in support of Bristol Bay

I just ordered from Bob Marriott’s to support this important work. Here are the three retailers in California that you can use today to have a portion of your sale go toward it.

California
Lost Coast Outfitters, San Francisco, CA
Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters, South Lake Tahoe, CA
Bob Marriott’s Fly Fishing Store, Fullerton, CA

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Call to Action: Make your voice heard about proposed new CDFW regs

Fishing organizations with a conservation focus, including the apolitical Pasadena Casting Club, Trout Unlimited and Cal Trout are all asking fishers to make their voices heard about the proposed California Department of Fish & Wildlife regs, which would simplify their complex system with major consequences for many of the waters we love.

For example, the Golden Trout Wilderness, home to our endangered state fish, would be open to a five-fish take and no gear requirements!

Or Hot Creek? Under the proposed regulations, it would lose its “barbless artificial flies only” designation in favor of “barbless artificial lures only.” We all know the difference between a No. 16 green scud and a Rapala DT armed with two barbless treble hooks.

Can you imagine what either gemlike area would fish like after a couple of years of that kind of pressure?

Know this is one issue both fly and spin fishers are united in opposing. As Jack Lunch wrote in Mammoth’s The Sheet:

 And why do fishermen of all stripes, from fly fishermen to bait fishermen, all seem to be on the same page? 

     “I’ve never been in a room where bait and fly people are in complete agreement on something,” remarked Slee Thursday morning. 

     Slee says year-round fishing will decimate fish populations by putting them under constant stress. 

I’ve compiled information from two of the organizations below, as well as provided a link for your comments. Trout Unlimited Jessica Strickland’s side-by-side comparison of California waters with current and proposed regs is available by email only. If you’d like a copy, let her know at jessica.strickland@tu.org.

If you are free tomorrow, from noon- 2 p.m.there’s an information session at Bass Pro Shop in Rancho Cucamonga.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

 

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Call to action: Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska

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Courtesy Earthjustice.org

From Trout Unlimited:

Despite over a decade of opposition, the agency reviewing the permit application for the massive proposed Pebble mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska recently moved the mega-project one step closer to reality.

The rivers and streams of Bristol Bay are known by anglers around the globe as some of the greatest, and among the last exceptionally productive wild salmon streams remaining on earth. The massive mine proposal slated for the heart of the spawning grounds of the Nushagak and Kvichak Rivers has been widely opposed for the past 15 years by local Alaska Native Tribes, Alaskans, commercial and sport fishermen, and concerned citizens worldwide. For anglers, the mine is a clear and direct threat to the thriving and irreplaceable salmon-based economy of the region.

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) released by the Army Corps of Engineers is the most important document of the permitting process. Unfortunately, the highly anticipated DEIS just released is extremely short and fails to account for all the mine’s potential impacts, leaving Bristol Bay in immediate jeopardy.  Please comment on this today.

The process and flawed assessment leaves Alaskans filled with skepticism in the wake of recent environmental disasters associated with largescale tailings pond failures and as the DEIS findings include permanent destruction of more than 80 miles of streams and 3,500 acres of wetlands. What’s more, the current permit application considers only Pebble’s phase one plan. Risks posed by the entire project have yet to be fully evaluated, though the mine is closer than ever to reality.

Now is the time for anglers to weigh in: The public comment period runs from March 1st – May 30

Decision makers in D.C. are watching. They need to see that opposition to the Pebble mine is strong and growing. Please join us in the fight to preserve world-class fishing opportunity, cultural tradition, American jobs, food, and save Bristol Bay.

Learn more about the contents of the DEIS, the latest news, and how you can support the fight to stop the proposed Pebble mine at SaveBristolBay.org/StopPebble2019.

We strongly urge you, and your fishing buddies, to review the impacts of the Pebble mine and submit a comment of your own. Opposition to the Pebble mine is strong and growing – please join us in the fight to preserve cultural tradition, existing American jobs, food, and save Bristol Bay.

It’s no time for complacency when it comes to Pebble Mine. Please tell the agency reviewing Pebble’s most important permit to follow the science and stop the mine. Please take action today.