What We Do: Ecosystem Conservation / Mining
Some people are surprised to learn that gold mining is a significant impact to the ecosystems in Eastern Oregon, especially to the areas around Baker City. In fact, Baker City was founded as a result of a gold rush in the mid- to late-1800′s, and to this day its annual community celebration is called the “Miners’ Jubilee.”
Most streams on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest in and to the south of the Elkhorns have been impacted by mining, most of which takes place either in or immediately adjacent to streams. The mining and related road-building has a significant negative impact on water quality and fish habitat.
Fortunately, no new mines are being approved in the area at the moment due to HCPC’s successful North Fork Burnt River litigation. In that litigation we were able to stop the Forest Service’s blanket approval of 49 mines on the North Fork Burnt River, based on the Forest Service’s failure to meet the Clean Water Act and the National Forest Management Act.
In the next year or so we are expecting a new version of the NFBR Mining proposal, along with proposals from both the Wallowa-Whitman and Umatilla National Forests for scores of mining projects along Granite Creek.
For background on the antiquated 1872 Mining Law see: http://www.pewminingreform.org/