The headawaters of the Methow River and Holliway Mountain, looking east. Azurite Peak and Handcock Ridge at left.

To the Bureau of Land Management and Secretary Zinke:

On behalf of the Methow Headwaters Campaign and thousands of supporters, the undersigned individuals strongly support the recommendation of the U.S. Forest Service for a 20-year mineral withdrawal of 340,079 acres of U.S. Forest Service land in the Methow Headwaters of Washington State.

We request approval of the 20-year Methow Headwaters withdrawal so that these lands are declared off-limits to new mining activities, allowing Congress time to work on a permanent solution for protecting the valley’s ecological and recreational resources.

While there is appreciation for Okanogan County’s mining heritage and a recognition that mining may be appropriate elsewhere in the county, large-scale mining in the Methow Headwaters threatens to damage a successful local economy that is built on the area’s rural character, clean water, spectacular natural lands and world-class recreational opportunities.

The area attracts more than one million visitors a year, contributing more than $150 million to the local economy and helping support 1,800 recreation-related jobs in the county. This includes outdoor enthusiasts who visit the Methow to experience exceptional hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing, hiking, mountain biking, snowmobiling, skiing, and climbing, among other active pursuits. Significant investment has been made in the valley that benefits the local economy, including more than $225 million in public funding for infrastructure supporting water, fish and recreation.

The Methow Headwaters provides vital habitat to fish and wildlife, including wild chinook salmon, steelhead, and cutthroat and bull trout. It is also home to a critical migration corridor for the state’s largest mule deer population. The vibrant habitat and abundant wildlife attract hunters and anglers who contribute millions of dollars to the local economy.

Support for the 20-year withdrawal is overwhelming. This includes more than 150 businesses engaged in outdoor recreation, agriculture, hospitality, real estate, health, construction and more. Local town councils, the chamber of commerce, tribes, civic leaders local organizations and thousands of individuals also have endorsed the withdrawal. Political support is deep and bipartisan, including Rep. Dan Newhouse, U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, current and former members of the Washington state legislature and numerous local elected officials.

Finally, the withdrawal is consistent with Interior Department’s initiatives to create a conservation stewardship legacy, promote agriculture and rural prosperity, and to be a good neighbor to local communities. It also supports Secretary’s Zinke’s executive orders supporting improving habitat quality in western big-game winter range and migration corridors, and enhancing and expanding recreational fishing opportunities.

We appreciate the efforts of the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and Department of Interior to forward this important action in a timely manner. We urge quick approval of the 20-year withdrawal by December 30, 2018 when the current two-year segregation period ends.


*Supporters of the Methow Headwaters Campaign

*Methow Headwaters will submit a full list of comments received to the BLM State Office after the public comment period closes.