Thank you for your interest in the Methow Headwaters and the current mineral withdrawal process. Voicing your opinion is crucial to the success of this effort. This page provides some background to help you understand the process and how you can make sure your voice is heard. We are currently in the midst of a critical 30-day public comment period that will conclude on November 6, 2017.

What is a mineral withdrawal?

A mineral withdrawal is a management tool used to remove specific areas of public lands from the General Mining Law of 1872 – an antiquated law that gives broad discretion to private interests to explore and develop a mine on public land. A mineral withdrawal will largely halt new mining exploration, drilling, and new mine development in the Methow Headwaters, but continue to allow all
other activities including forest restoration, grazing and recreational access.

What’s the current status?

On December 30, 2016 the Bureau of Land Management initiated a two-year mineral withdrawal, during which the agencies will evaluate whether to extend the temporary withdrawal for 20 years. This essentially provides a “time out” from new mine development and exploration in the Methow Headwaters. The withdrawal supports legislation introduced in 2017 by Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) to secure permanent protection from large-scale mining in the Methow Headwaters.  The senators continue efforts to pass legislation in support of the headwaters in the 115th Congress.

What is the threat?

A Canadian company, Blue River Resources, Ltd., has been pursuing efforts to conduct exploratory drilling directly above the town of Mazama on Flagg Mountain. Completion of exploratory drilling could open the door to future development of large-scale, open-pit mining operation in the headwaters. The proposed Methow Headwaters mineral withdrawal of about 340,000 acres encompasses the full extent of any copper deposits on Flagg Mountain and in the greater headwaters that might lead to industrial-scale mining in this precious landscape.

Large-scale mine development in the headwaters threatens the area’s pristine and critical water resources, fish and wildlife, and the valley’s rural character and outdoor-based economy. Large-scale mining threatens years of disruption to the area through increased heavy truck traffic and industrial activity, visual impacts, and disruption of wildlife and their habitat. Despite ongoing advances in techniques and required cleanup plans, accidents and spills that affect water quality are known to happen with devastating results, and ensuring required mitigation performance often falls short of commitments.

Taking Action

A mineral withdrawal is the best way to ensure that the Methow Valley continues to be one of Washington State’s most extraordinary places.  Thanks for joining us and standing up for the future of Methow Headwaters!