The Forest Service released a Revised Draft Environmental Assessment (Revised EA) for the Yellowjacket planning area on Oct. 31st, 2023. We had raised concerns about aggressive timber treatments in mature forest stands, among other issues. The Revised EA incorporated some of our recommendations but failed to address all of them.
The Revised EA is an improvement over the earlier version. There are aspects of the plan we support, such as road decommissioning, thinning in young plantations, and aquatic habitat improvements. However, there are still aspects of the current plans we find concerning.
We’ll be speaking up to support what we like and encouraging the Forest Service to address our remaining concerns. We encourage you to participate in the public process as well.
Things we like about the revised project plans:
We are supportive of thinning in young plantation stands, aquatic restoration projects, the planned decommissioning of over 11 miles of road, and we are generally supportive of huckleberry restoration efforts. We are also supportive that the Revised EA added a provision to protect any tree that measures over 35 inches diameter at base height.
Things we don’t like about the project:
We continue to be concerned about regeneration harvest (a very intensive treatment akin to a clear-cut) in 100-year-old forest stands. We are also very concerned about the proposed regeneration harvest in close proximity to historical northern spotted owl nesting sites. We will be pushing the Forest Service to do away with regeneration harvest in older stands and northern spotted owl sites.
Please join us in sticking up for older stands and northern spotted owl sites. The Revised EA is open for comments until November 30th and you can examine project documents and comment yourself at this website.
The Little White Salmon watershed is a 86,000-acre area spanning the transition zone between the wetter west-side forests and drier east-side forests of Washington’s southern Cascades, 80% of which is within the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Due to its location, the watershed contains a unique mix of forest types and a high level of biodiversity, but it’s also at risk from significant climate impacts.
It’s no surprise then that this watershed is at the center of conversations about how to best manage forests on the verge of change, or that there are differing opinions about what that means.
The U.S. Forest Service is contemplating treating a huge area within the watershed through a combination of commercial and non-commercial thinning. In a break from other recent timber sales in the forest, the initial scoping plans for the Little White Salmon timber sale include considerations to thin thousands of acres of mature and transitional forests, although planners have publicly acknowledged they expect the amount to decrease as the agency moves closer to creating a final version of its plan.
The agency is proposing thinning in mature forests to mitigate the increasing impacts from drought, insects, disease, and wildfire that this area is likely to experience.
Generally, Cascade Forest Conservancy doesn’t support plans that involve thinning activities in mature forests, as these are areas of high ecological and carbon storage value and it is unclear whether the potential benefits of thinning would offset the more immediate negative impacts of harvest.
However, we understand the situation is nuanced and there is a lot of complexity and uncertainty – particularly in this transitional watershed. Because of this, we have been visiting these stands and collecting data to help inform our efforts ensuring that forests and wildlife remain resilient to the threats of climate change.
On the last weekend of September, CFC staff and volunteers ventured off the beaten path in the Little White Salmon watershed to collect on-the-ground information.
We targeted some of the older stands (those between 120 and 300 years of age) for our data collection efforts to see for ourselves if the on-the-ground conditions matched up with age estimates and to gain information about forest conditions that spatial analysis cannot provide.
Teams of volunteers spread out and conducted surveys collecting information about tree species, tree densities, tree diameters, the presence and amount of large downed wood, and species diversity in the understory in 30-foot radius circles.
Each team worked hard to collect as many plots as possible and everyone gained some skills in estimating tree sizes and types by the end of the trip. Each team found well-functioning mature forest stands and a number of large trees in the survey area, with the biggest coming in at 57 inches in diameter.
In the coming weeks and months we will be discussing this timber harvest proposal with the South Gifford Pinchot Collaborative and the Forest Service and working to make sure that critical habitats are protected and that management plans are well-tuned to ecosystem resilience.
Thanks to all the volunteers who gave their time and energy to this project!
Act now: Urge the Washington Department of Ecology to protect the Cascade, Green and Napeequa river systems as outstanding waters.
Washington’s rivers are central to life in our state and vital to a thriving, sustainable future for our communities. They provide clean drinking water, support local economies, are critical to the health and abundance of fish and wildlife species, and provide numerous recreation opportunities for Washingtonians and visitors.
But many of Washington’s rivers, streams, and wetlands face growing threats, including drought, diminished snowpacks, increasing temperatures, wildfire, development, and pollution.
Fortunately, we have an opportunity to work together to safeguard a number of our state’s waterways as Outstanding Resource Waters (ORW). Outstand Resource Waters designations help protect waters of exceptional recreational, environmental, or ecological significance. Once a waterway is designated as an ORW, existing activities can continue, but new degradation of water quality is forbidden, meaning that current uses or activities, including mining, timber harvest, grazing, and recreation may continue, but new actions that could damage an ORW are prohibited.
On July 18, the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) released a proposed regulation to designate the first-ever ORWs in the state. Designation of these river systems would benefit Washington’s people, economy, wildlife, and salmon. Plus, if the implementation of Washington’s first ORW designations is a success it may pave the way to secure protections for other high quality waterways throughout the state! That’s one of the reasons it’s critical that you speak out in favor of these proposed designations.
The Green River, flowing through the Green River Valley near Mount St. Helens is a special place that we’ve been working to protect from the threat of a new open-pit mine for well over a decade. Community groups have continually stated that this is no place for a mine and fought a proposed mine in this watershed for over 15 years. The District Court has found in CFC’s favor several times, most recently vacating exploratory drilling permits in February of 2021. Although the best solution remains a mineral withdrawal, designating the Green River as an ORW constitutes a tangible move by the Department of Ecology to support the community’s belief that the Green River is a unique and special place, deserving of additional protection. An ORW designation would provide an extra layer of protection for the nominated portions of the Green River and, at the very least, make it harder and more expensive to mine.
How to Comment:
Submit your comments online at the Department of Ecology’s website HERE by September 27th.
Select which river or rivers you’d like to comment on and then personalize your comments in the text box. You can maximize your impact by personalizing your comments.
Do you have a personal connection to any of the rivers? How do you enjoy the Green River (near Mount St. Helens), the Cascade River, and/or Napeequa River? Sharing your connection with the rivers and why you personally would like to see them protected can go a long way.
Here are some general talking points to support ORWs:
Washington’s rivers, streams, and wetlands supply drinking water to residents across the state, sustain wildlife habitat, and provide an economic boost to local communities.
As a Washingtonian, I want to see the state’s precious freshwater resources safeguarded.
Washington’s waters are under increasing threat as the climate warms and the population grows, placing greater stress and demand on freshwater resources. Now is the time to protect some of the state’s most outstanding waters and prevent degradation of stretches of rivers, streams, wetlands and other freshwater bodies with high water quality or other unique characteristics.
I urge Ecology to designate the Cascade, Green, and Napeequa river systems as the state’s first Outstanding Resource Waters so that Washingtonians can enjoy these waters now and for generations to come.
Why is the Green River special to you? Please use the information below about the Green River to help explain why protecting this waterway matters to you personally.
The Green River is a very unique river deserving of one of Washington’s first ORW designations.
The Green River is an eligible Wild and Scenic River, a designated gene bank for winter steelhead populations, and provides excellent spawning habitat for endangered salmon.
The forests along the Green River contain some of the last remaining stands of old-growth trees in the area to survive the Mount St.Helens blast. These old-growth stands supply critical habitat for old-growth dependent species, like the northern spotted owl.
Recreation opportunities along the Green River are abundant. The Green River Trail, Goat Mountain Trail, and Green River Horse Camp along this spectacular river are enjoyed by mountain bikers, hikers, horseback riders, hunters, and anglers.
Join CFC in urging the Washington Department of Ecology to do everything they can to protect these treasured rivers for future generations. Send your message today!
It is essential that the state take steps now to protect some of its remaining high-quality rivers that provide numerous benefits to Washingtonians. Safeguarding Washington’s rivers will ensure that these treasures are protected for current and future generations. Thank you for speaking up in support of this important cause.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Forest Service released scoping plans for the upcoming Little White Salmon timber sale. The project, which is officially called the Little White Salmon Forest Resiliency and Fire Risk Mitigation Project, is still in the early planning stages. The agency is seeking public input, which is due May 8, 2023. Public input, as well as further agency review, will be used to refine the plan before a more detailed Environmental Assessment is published for further public input in the future. Cascade Forest Conservancy (CFC) has been discussing the details of this project with the Forest Service for several years as part of our work within the South Gifford Pinchot Collaborative and will be submitting our own comments to the proposal. We ask that you take a moment to join us in speaking up for mature forests in the Little White Salmon Watershed.
The Little White Salmon watershed extends northward from the Columbia River toward high elevation meadows in the Indian Heaven Wilderness, the majority of which (79%) are located within the Mt. Adams Ranger District of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. This area is an important transition zone between drier eastside forests and moist westside forests containing a high level of biodiversity and many high-value habitat areas. Its transitional characteristics also make it uniquely vulnerable to climate change disturbances.
The project described in the scoping notice proposes active management (including commercial and non-commercial thinning, fuel reduction activities, road decommissioning, and aquatic habitat restoration actions) on 15,600 acres. This includes thinning activities in 7,100 acres of middle and mature forests, 2,000 acres of which are described as complex stands.
CFC has concerns about the intensity of thinning activities proposed in mature forest stands and several other issues, which we outline below.
HIGH-INTENSITY THINNING IN MATURE FORESTS:
CFC is concerned that the treatments described in the scoping plans in mature forest stands are unnecessarily aggressive. The agency is proposing logging activities in over 3,000 acres of forests where trees are over 120 years old that would reduce total canopy cover to 40% or 45-55%. These mature forests are on the cusp of becoming much-needed old-growth habitat.
The intensity of the proposed logging activities in these stands will not confer fire-risk mitigation benefits (especially in the wetter west-side stands) that outweigh the negative impacts of the proposed activities to the health of the intact ecosystem, carbon sequestration capacity, and the development of old-growth forest stands. CFC is asking the Forest Service to employ less intense thinning activities for the older stands included in their plans.
We are also asking the Forest Service not to cut any old-growth in the 32 units included in the plan where these important and rare habitat areas are present. Although we acknowledge that the scoping brochure mentions “no old-growth forests are proposed for treatment,” we are formally commenting in support of that promise to ensure that all old-growth stands are dropped from treatment plans and allowed a no-cut buffer.
THINNING IN NORTHERN SPOTTED OWL HABITAT:
The proposed harvest overlaps with several northern spotted owl circles (areas around locations where northern spotted owls have been observed nesting in the past), and many of those units are proposed for thinning the canopy to 40% cover. Northern spotted owl numbers are already drastically dwindling due to the lack of available preferred habitat and competition from barred owls.
Thinning the canopy down to 40% is a heavy disturbance that will likely lead to decreased reproduction and/or site abandonment, impacting the recovery of this highly threatened species. There have been suggestions that northern spotted owls may not inhabit some of these areas any longer, and this has been used as a justification to underplay the importance of owl circles. However, critical habitat for NSOs, updated in 2021, still includes most of the project area as critical habitat. In the absence of new monitoring data, the Forest Service should continue protecting known historic nest sites.
RIPARIAN FOREST MANAGEMENT:
Many of the proposed units appear to be within Riparian Reserves. These stream-adjacent forests and aquatic habitats are migration corridors and serve as important refugia where habitat resilience is frequently best improved or maintained by leaving these areas to grow unencumbered and intact. CFC believes commercial thinning is not appropriate within Riparian Reserves and is likely not compliant with current forest management policies. CFC is asking that any management within Riparian Reserves be non-commercial in nature and tailored to the aquatic habitat needs of the specific sites.
LOST CREEK AREA:
The Lost Creek area on the southwestern edge of the watershed is special to CFC and many others. It includes ancient cedar trees that are some of the largest in the Forest. Due to the special nature of this place, we have questions and concerns about the intensity of the proposed treatments in this area and request special attention and consideration be paid to ensure the features that make this site unique are protected. We are concerned that logging near this area will result in more open canopies, higher understory temperatures, less moisture retention, and therefore higher fire risk for the old-growth stands in the area. We request that any treatments in this area focus on the protection of this unique and important ecosystem and that the impact of logging on increased fire risk and forest resilience in this type of forest be sufficiently considered.
HOW TO GET INVOLVED:
Public input from concerned citizens like you can have a positive impact on the end result of projects like the Little White Salmon timber sale. Please use the talking points above as an outline to write and submit your own comments to the Little White Salmon scoping plans by May 8th, 2023.
Comments may be mailed to Jessica Hudec, Mt. Adams Ranger Station, 2455 Hwy 141, Trout Lake, WA 98650.
Electronic comments may be emailed to email@example.com. Please submit comments within the e-mail message or as an attachment in .pdf, .doc, or .rtf format and specify in the subject that it pertains to the Little White Salmon Forest Resiliency and Fire Risk Mitigation Project.
The 2023 Washington Legislative Session is well underway and there are some interesting bills related to state forest management and climate change that are working through the system. We’ve been watching several of these bills, but we wanted to highlight three in particular, each of which could potentially make a major impact on land management and climate change policies in our state.
Trust Lands Transfer Program (SHB 1460)
Washington’s working forest lands are held in a trust that provides the state with revenue through timber sales. The Trust Lands Transfer program is an important tool that allows the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to transfer lands from this trust into a different category of public ownership, like a natural reserve. The tool is meant to transition high quality ecosystems and/or areas of relatively low timber value out of the trust and into protected reserves and to replace this acreage with other more profitable working lands.
In the past this program has lacked transparency and been inconsistently applied. The bills introduced this legislative session address these problems and allow individuals and groups outside of DNR to nominate lands to be considered for transfer. We feel this is an important change for the program.
We are excited to see that this bill passed the House and are hopeful it will pass the Senate soon. You can join us in voicing support by clicking here and commenting in support of the bill.
Updating the Integrated Climate Strategy (E2SHB 1170)
The state has a ten-year old integrated climate response strategy that is in need of updating. These bills would update the strategy and broaden its reach to include more agencies. There are several important requirements for the updated strategy that we are particularly excited about.
First, the bill will require agencies to identify “key gaps to advancing climate resilience actions.” As we all know, it’s difficult to address problems unless those problems have been identified. Second, it includes language to protect marginalized communities whose members too frequently bear an outsized burden of climate change consequences. Finally, the bill prioritizes “actions that deploy natural solutions, restore habitat, or reduce stressors that exacerbate climate change.” We feel these types of actions are necessary for climate resilience and are pleased to see them included as a guiding principle of the strategy.
We are very supportive of this bill. It has just passed the House, and we are hopeful it will soon pass in the Senate. You can join us in supporting this bill by clicking here and commenting in support of the bill.
DNR Carbon Offsets (SB 5688, HB 1789)
There are two bills this legislative session which would allow the DNR to address its financial obligation to working forest lands trust beneficiaries, like timber revenue-dependent counties, by selling carbon offsets. Selling carbon offsets to combat climate change is a much-debated topic among environmentalists. While this likely sounds like a great idea, the issues raised by these bills are complex and nuanced. Currently both the house and senate bills appear to allow for dual income sources. For example, it appears the proposed legislation could allow the DNR to sell carbon credits while simultaneously allowing activities like some logging on a particular piece of land. This raises some questions about whether the new program will be used like traditional carbon credit sales where the forest in consideration is left alone for a significant amount of time.
The house version of the bill appears to not allow DNR to decrease timber production despite the selling of carbon offsets, and in fact seems to require an increase in timber production over time. Additionally, the house version of the bill prevents DNR from setting aside areas of timber lands as carbon offsets where no other management is performed unless the beneficiaries of the trust, usually counties, approve it. These terms are problematic and undermine one of the major benefits of the proposed program, undisturbed forests protected carbon offsets. Currently, the senate version of the bill does not include this problematic language and seems more in line with what we would expect and hope to see.
As of this writing, neither version has passed either chamber. We’re still watching to see what will happen with both carbon offset bills and whether substantial amendments will be made. We are more supportive of the current senate bill, but still have reservations given the complexity of the issue.
Overall, we’re excited to see the state legislature spending time considering the important issues of state forest management and climate change. Washington’s forests are one of the most important carbon sinks in the world and the decisions we make today will have enormous consequences for the future. Whether those consequences are good or bad depends on what we do now. We are hopeful that the Trust Lands Transfer program and the Integrated Climate Strategy bills are under consideration and make it to Governor Inlees’ desk. Please help get them over the finish line by voicing your support for the Trust Lands Transfer Program here and the Climate Response Strategy here.
We are disappointed that our lawsuit to protect the Pumice Plain from an ill-conceived road was not successful. A federal appeals court will allow the Forest Service to build a road across the Plain as early as this summer.
Since 2017 we’ve been fighting the Forest Service’s short-sighted plan to construct a road through the Pumice Plain in order to access the Spirit Lake tunnel, which is in need of maintenance and repairs. We never questioned the need to maintain the infrastructure of Spirit Lake, however we strongly opposed choosing the option that created a road across the Pumice Plain without first duly considering all access options. The Pumice Plain is a place affording researchers with opportunities available nowhere else on Earth to study ecosystem recovery. The road will now compromise a large number of long-term ongoing studies, will infringe on the public’s right to experience a unique volcanic landscape by accessing the Truman trail, and will threaten the fragile watersheds and ecosystems that exist there.
We maintain that the Forest Service did not adequately study alternatives to access the Spirit Lake work site. The agency did not provide an Environmental Impact Statement, which we believe, should have been required for this project based on the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). They failed to adequately account for a number of impacts in their Environmental Assessment including impacts to the world-class research happening in this Class 1 Research Area, impacts of road construction and runoff, and the increased likelihood of introducing invasive species, all of which will impact recreation, wildlife, watersheds, and fundamentally alter the unique character of the Pumice Plain. Additionally, the project was complicated by adding drilling to obtain information for long-term management to the tunnel repair project, making the need for an access road seem more urgent and necessary than it is and stifling the review of reasonable alternatives.
We are disappointed in the Court’s decision, and especially in the disregard for the long-term value and health of a world-renowned natural laboratory displayed by the actions of the Forest Service. This project needs more analysis and study. We will continue to stand with our coalition of partner organizations and members of the research community to continue putting pressure on the Forest Service to re-examine this decision and choose another access alternative to complete the repair work at the Spirit Lake tunnel before it’s too late.
Mining reform is currently a hot topic, particularly in Washington D.C. There is a growing national conversation about how best to obtain critical minerals needed to fuel the green energy transition while protecting the environment and communities. There are major challenges that we must address to do so. The laws currently governing mining on federal public lands are a patchwork of requirements that make it extremely difficult to ensure hardrock minerals are mined responsibly on those lands.
Policymakers are grappling with what to do about these badly outdated laws, many of which are rooted in a historical legacy of colonial racism and antagonism against the natural world. We know better alternatives to those laws are possible. Change is on the horizon, which means this is the time for the public to get informed and get involved.
HISTORY OF HARDROCK MINING LAWS IN THE U.S.
In the 1800s, the United States enacted policies to encourage people to “develop” and colonize the West, including the General Mining Law of 1872. This statute was grounded in manifest destiny and other beliefs we recognize as racist, harmful, and wrong. The 1872 law gave lands to mining developers (at very little cost) that had been taken from Indigenous communities.
Once a claim was patented, the government would recognize a miner’s right to extract minerals –regardless of any other considerations. When the law was passed, the value of the nation’s currency was tied to physical gold (and would remain so until 1971). It’s not surprising then that in addition to giving away land, this statute gave preferential treatment to mining over other land uses.
Over time, small changes were added to the mining regulatory structure. The government created a different structure for regulating mining on federal lands acquired after the act was passed. Mineral rights in these areas can be leased rather than claimed–which gives land managers limited discretion over mining activities compared to claims on lands regulated by the original 1872 General Mining Law.
The last significant update to the system of regulations governing hardrock mining activities was the Mining and Mineral Policy Act of 1970. 1970 was also the year of the first Earth Day. The conservation movement was gaining momentum and there was broad bipartisan support for laws protecting the environment–but the gold standard had not yet been repealed and the government continued to place a high priority on extracting hardrock minerals.
The 1970 policy made it clear how important extracting hardrock minerals remained to the US government. It stated “that it is the continuing policy of the Federal Government, in the national interest, to foster and encourage private enterprise in (among other goals) the development of domestic mineral resources and the reclamation of mined land. This Federal policy obviously applies to National Forest System lands.”¹
Centuries of bad laws regulating mining caused a massive amount of legacy pollution that is still around today. Abandoned hardrock mines have been a known problem for years and a strain on taxpayers due largely to the fact that the General Mining Law of 1872 did not include any environmental protections or cleanup requirements. And unlike regulations governing other extractive industries like oil and gas, the law does not require royalty payments to the government, which could have helped offset the costs of pollution and cleanup taxpayers incur.
Unsurprisingly, the West is littered with abandoned mines. According to the Environmental Protection Agency “[m]ining in the western United States has contaminated stream reaches in the headwaters of more than 40 percent of watersheds in the West.” Sadly, it is often the wildlife and communities living nearby who suffer the environmental and health consequences.
HARDROCK MINING ON FEDERAL LANDS TODAY
Today, hardrock mining is still primarily regulated by the 150 year-old General Mining Law and the 1970 policy. In other words, mining continues to get preferential treatment over other land uses and mining companies continue unnecessarily harming environments and communities while facing little or no accountability. This has been true even in many cases when the decision-making agencies have some discretion.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) have the discretion to deny mining operation permits in mineral leasing applications. A long and contentious decision making process about mineral leases near the Boundary Waters may become a sign that positive change is starting, but the use of discretion has not been the norm. As the authors of a 2016 Government Accountability Office Report note, although “[t]he agencies may . . . withhold approval of the mine based on the findings of the environmental analysis. . .BLM and Forest Service officials told us that they were not aware of any instances where this had occurred.”
In cases where the General Mining Law directly applies, the USFS and other agencies have stated in official documents that they don’t have the authority to say no to mining if all other requirements can be satisfied.
It’s worth noting the loopholes in other environmental laws and policies that help enable irresponsible hardrock mining projects, including specific exemptions for mining within sections of the Clean Water Act.
Given all this, and since the BLM and USFS have only rarely exercised their discretion (when they have it) to deem a mine inappropriate, one of the only ways to protect specific federal lands from mining is with a mineral withdrawal–a federal land management tool which essentially disallows mining as a land use in a set boundary in order to maintain other public values in that designated area. A mineral withdrawal lasting for a 20 year period can be executedadministratively through the executive branch, but a mineral withdrawal enacted in Congress is harder to reverse and has no expiration date.
CFC is currently working on securing a legislative mineral withdrawal for the Green River Valley bordering the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, to permanently protect it from the threat of an open-pit mine.
Given all of these known problems and the colonial history of laws regulating hardrock mining on lands managed by the Federal Government, CFC supports reforms that would ensure mining is done responsibly, sustainably, and with the consent and involvement of the affected communities–especially Indigenous ones.
Momentum is building, but reform efforts for hardrock mining have been underway for decades. CFC agrees with many of the suggested reforms including efforts to: close loopholes for mining that currently exist in environmental laws like the aforementioned Clean Water Act; ensure Tribes and local communities have a robust say in the planning of mining operations; create a reliable fund for the cleanup of abandoned mines; give land use managers the ability to say “no” and encourage them to do so in response to mining when other competing land uses and values deem a mine inappropriate in a particular area.
Towards that goal, we’ve been supporting several efforts to achieve these important reforms including signing on to express our support for bills in Congress such as the Clean Energy Minerals Reform Act of 2022. We’re also engaging with the administration in the Interagency Working Group on Mining Regulations, Laws, and Permitting. This process is being undertaken by the administration to identify regulatory and congressional actions needed to update our hardrock mining regulatory structure to meet the principles for reform set out by the Whitehouse.
It’s long past time to rethink how we approach hardrock mining. As we move beyond a fossil fuel economy, we may come to rely on materials provided by hardrock mines even more than we already do. We will have to meet these needs while also protecting communities and our environment.
Mining reform is needed now because our current system is setting us up to fail to achieve that goal. It’s going to take a lot of feedback and grassroots work to get the needed reforms over the finish line. Here are a few ways you can help.
First, use existing systems to secure a mineral withdrawal for the Green River Valley. Learn more here.
Next, submit your own comments to the Interagency Working Group. They are accepting public input through July 31st, 2022.
When you submit comments to the Interagency Working Group, please include some of the talking points here. Ask the Working Group to:
Recommend a legislative withdrawal for the Green River Valley in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and ask them to execute an administrative legislative withdrawal as well.
Close loopholes for mining in environmental laws like the Clean Water Act.
Add royalty payments for hardrock mines to help ensure cleanup of mines when all the extraction is done.
Ensure strong environmental protections for all hardrock mining operations.
Allow land managers to have discretion to decide where other resource values outweigh mining in particular areas.
Create strong public participation, Tribal consultation, and community involvement processes in mining proposals on all Federal lands.
Ensure responsible and thorough cleanup of abandoned mines.
Create and fund an abandoned mine program to ensure government agencies have the resources they need to clean up all abandoned mines.