The U.S. Forest Service announced in a media release this week that KORE Mining, Ltd. will begin exploratory drilling as early as Tuesday, November 30, in Long Valley.
“The public should expect that heavy equipment including a drill rig will be on the roads near Whitmore Hot Springs and Antelope Springs Roads,” the media release says.
Friends of the Inyo (FOI), together with the Center for Biological Diversity, Western Watersheds Project and Sierra Club, is suing the U.S. Forest Service for allowing KORE Mining’s destructive activities to proceed.
“This is a bad project for the community of Mammoth Lakes, Southern Mono County, and negatively impacts wildlife, including the imperiled bi-state sage grouse, and our recreational tourism economy,” FOI Executive Director Wendy Schneider said. “It provides no benefit to the people of Mono County.”
What can I do?
Mammoth Lakes area activists are organizing a peaceful protest this Saturday, Nov. 20, from Noon to 3 p.m. A Facebook page that provides details has been set up. You can access it by clicking here or on the button below.
“The goal of this protest is to bring awareness to community members in Mammoth Lakes and the Eastern Sierra about KORE Mining’s intentions to implement an open pit gold mine,” the protest Facebook page says. “We are encouraging folks to make signs and banners in preparation for the event.”
Friends of the Inyo supports this peaceful protest.
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,
Senior Legislative Assistant to Congressman Jay Obernolte, California Eighth District
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
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:
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 email@example.com 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.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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