BOISE, ID. – The government shutdown has caused the cancellation of a U.S. Forest Service public meeting on a mining project in the Boise National Forest.
Now, some Idahoans are concerned they’ll be left in the dark.
The Idaho CuMo Mining Corporation, owned by a Canadian mining company, has proposed an exploration plan near the headwaters of the Boise River for molybdenum, a metal often used in manufacturing.
The sole Forest Service meeting on an environmental assessment of the project had been scheduled for Wednesday.
John Robison, public lands director for the Idaho Conservation League, says the agency needs to reschedule a meeting for this complicated plan, which has faced hurdles in the past.
“Already, a federal court has found that the Forest Service hadn’t done its due diligence in analyzing or sharing those potential impacts with the public,” Robinson says. “So a crucial step in understanding this latest version is a public meeting.”
Federal judges have blocked CuMo’s past exploration proposals in Idaho twice before. If CuMo finds what it’s looking for, the company could create one of the largest open-pit mines in the country.
The Forest Service hopes to reschedule a meeting before the public comment period ends on Jan. 22.
Robison says people have been reaching out to him concerned they won’t learn more about the project or have the ability to voice their opinions, adding that the public comment period should be extended.
He says an open-pit mine would create big hazards to Boise River water that flows into the Treasure Valley as well as wildlife in the region.
But Robison also notes simply exploring for minerals will have a footprint in the Boise National Forest for Idahoans.
“They have property around it,” he points out. “They like to fish and hunt and hike back up in there. And even the exploration project can have significant impact with regards to dust, traffic, noise and wildlife disturbance up there.”
The plan calls for building more than 10 miles of temporary roads and installing up to 137 drilling pads.
The Idaho Conservation League is encouraging folks who are concerned about the project to contact the Forest Service and urge the agency to schedule a meeting and extend the comment period.
The public can comment at the Forest Service’s website.
Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service