(BOISE) A federal judge will hear arguments Tuesday, Oct. 8 on the Idaho Conservation League and Greater Yellowstone Coalition’s lawsuit on a Canadian mining company’s drilling permit in prime wildlife habitat in the Centennial Mountains. Otis Gold’s Kilgore Project would disrupt a major wildlife corridor, could harm grizzly bears, Yellowstone cutthroat trout, Columbia spotted frogs and whitebark pines, and could contaminate a critical water source for people, farmers and ranchers.
John Robison, ICL’s public lands director, says, “ This mining project threatens not only our public lands and wildlife, but could also contaminate the water Idahoans drink and use for farming and ranching.” He adds, “ICL wants the Forest Service to take a step back and do a more thorough review of the impacts the project may have on habitat, wildlife and clean water.”
ICL and the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, represented by Advocates for the West, sued the U.S. Forest Service in November for the agency’s approval of mining company Otis Gold’s project in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest near Kilgore, about 60 miles north of Idaho Falls. The exploration project covers nearly 20 miles of federal and state public lands and would include construction of 10 miles of new roads and nearly 150 drill stations.
In its plans, the company says if enough gold is detected it would move forward with plans for an open-pit mine and use a cyanide leaching pool for extraction. If allowed to do so, potentially contaminated water could head down nearby Camas Creek through Camas National Wildlife Refuge and end up in the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer, a major water source for drinking and irrigation in eastern and southern Idaho.
ICL works to ensure that mining activities don’t threaten human health, special places or Idaho’s clean water. ICL scrutinizes proposed new mines, improves those that are acceptable and fights those that are not in Idaho’s best interests.