The Centennial Mountains of eastern Idaho along the Continental Divide are a treasured place for wildlife, recreationists, and ranchers alike with its rustic character, lush meadows, and numerous trails. However, gold exploration in the Kilgore area threatens the very values that make this place special.
That’s not just the Idaho Conservation League’s view; thousands of others weighed in with the U.S. Forest Service to oppose the Kilgore project. ICL obtained a copy of the public comments that were submitted on the Forest Service’s draft Environmental Assessment for this project. What we found was striking – out of 3,836 comments received by the Forest Service, only a grand total of four supported authorizing additional mining-related activities in the Kilgore area. Put another way, 99.9 % of comments on this project expressed concern with the Forest Service authorization of more mineral-related activities at the site.
From conservationists to recreationists to ranchers to hunters, the residents of eastern Idaho have made it very clear that they do not want to see the beautiful landscape of the Centennials marred by mining. Here are a few excerpts to highlight what local residents are saying about the project:
“Our family has lived and ranched in Kilgore for nearly 100 years. We have no desire to give permits to foreign countries to overrun our beautiful Kilgore, not caring for those who live here or come to enjoy the mountains with their families.” – Dubois resident
“I am a fourth generation farmer and rancher based in part in the Kilgore area…Year after year I see both my fellow farmers and ranchers enjoying Kilgore for its beauty and natural productivity, as well as hundred of people seeking recreation who come to Kilgore to enjoy solitude and many opportunities for outdoor enjoyment. I am concerned, not only for my immediate and extended family’s stakes that are potentially threatened by this exploratory drilling project, but also for those people who come to Kilgore as one of the few remaining recreation areas that is largely unmarked and undeveloped…” – Hamer resident
“As a land owner, farmer, cattleman, I am very concerned over the prospects of having this gold mine in our area. My water comes directly from the mountain area that you are proposing this mining to take place in. This water grows my crops and waters my cattle…People depend on clean fresh water to raise crops to feed people, produce a healthy cattle product and more.” – Kilgore resident
Since my early childhood, Kilgore has been a special land for my family…Not only has the Kilgore area become a great tourist attraction, but it also provides important wildlife habitat, is a farming, ranching, and hunting mecca, and is an important source of timber. While the draw of gold and quick money may seem appealing, I believe the money that would stay in our economy from this gold exploration would be much less valuable and far shorter lived than the money brought to our area by the other opportunities the Kilgore area and Centennial Mountains offer.” – St. Anthony resident
Despite the numerous, serious concerns raised, the deficiencies in its environmental assessment, and the overwhelming public opposition to this project, the Forest Service decided in June to proceed with a draft decision to authorize Excellon’s (the project’s owner) mineral exploration proposal. In response, ICL, along with our partners at Greater Yellowstone Coalition, filed an administrative objection to this decision. The Forest Service has 90 days to resolve this objection and hopefully address the significant issues we’ve highlighted related to water quality, impacts to Yellowstone cutthroat trout, grizzly bears, and more. It is worth noting that the first time the Forest Service attempted to approve this project, it was struck down in federal court.
The Centennials are too special a place to mine. ICL will continue to work with local residents, agency officials, and our conservation partners in our efforts.
Join fellow community members by signing this petition to protect the Centennial Mountains from the harmful impacts of gold exploration and mining and to keep Kilgore the way it is!