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Report: Green River Valley "Too Wild to Drill"

Much of the land in the Green River Valley was purchased with federal money for conservation after the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980. (Trip Jennings/Balance Media)
Much of the land in the Green River Valley was purchased with federal money for conservation after the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980. (Trip Jennings/Balance Media)
September 20, 2017

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Green River Valley on the north side of Mount St. Helens is being called Too Wild to Drill, and according to a report by that name just out from The Wilderness Society, the area faces a serious threat from mining.

Researchers named the valley one of 15 particularly vulnerable spots on public land across the nation.

Kitty Craig, Washington state deputy director for The Wilderness Society, says she was disappointed when the U.S. Forest Service recently granted an exploratory drilling permit to a Canadian mining company to search for gold, copper and molybdenum, an element used to strengthen steel.

"In our mind, it's just this trend of the administration selling out our public land, really to industry and to the highest bidder," she states.

A report leaked over the weekend shows that the administration is considering downsizing 10 national monuments or allowing oil, gas, timber and/or mining exploitation there – including Cascade-Siskiyou in Oregon.

Craig argues it's hypocritical of the Forest Service to encourage hard-rock mining in the Green River Valley on acreage that was purchased with federal money specifically for conservation purposes after the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980.

Steve Jones, a board member of the Clark-Skamania Flyfishers in the Clark County/Vancouver area, warns that the continued seismic activity in the volcanic crater, only 12 miles away, makes the Green River Valley a very risky place for a mine – threatening the workers, the water supply and three local endangered species of fish.

"It could really be dangerous to any kind of dams or other facilities built to hold tailings water and other waste,” he stresses. "Failure of those structures could be really damaging to the whole environment north of Mount St. Helens."

The public can still comment before the mining exploration permit becomes final. A local group called the Cascade Forest Conservancy is collecting signatures for a petition to be delivered to the Forest Service.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - WA