The Klamath National Forest withdrew the decision notice for the High Bar Mine proposal rather than address EPIC and our allies’ appeal to the ill-conceived mining project. Now the agency plans to re-do the NEPA documents, for the third time. The mining operation proposal threatens McNiel Creek, a key cold water tributary crucial for the Salmon River’s fish runs.
A little background
Under the terms of the antiquated 1872 mining law, Wabuska Mining LLC has proposed to develop the High Bar Placer Mine in the McNeal watershed near the Salmon River in Trinity County. An Environmental Assessment has been prepared to analyze the project known as High Mar Mine Phase 2, which includes the following activities:
• Removal of approximately 1.75 acres of surface vegetation (and piling for later burning by Forest Service personnel) in preparation for excavation and milling operations,
• Excavation and stockpiling of approximately 19,000 cubic yards of topsoil and overburden soil,
• Excavation of approximately 24,500 cubic yards of ore material for on-site milling,
• Ore milling at the High Bar Placer Mine, including housing of mill personnel,
• Development of a water line for milling purposes from McNeal Creek,
• Continued use and maintenance of the existing non-system access road,
• Reclamation of the mined sites, with a Reclamation Bond to be paid to the Forest Service by the claimant/operator should claimant/operator fail to reclaim the site.
It is interesting to note that in a recent Best Management Practices Water Quality Monitoring Report, the Klamath National Forest assessed the High Bar Mine and access road and determined that the development that has occurred at this location up until this point did not include adequate measures, as layed out in the permit process, to reduce environmental impacts. Clearly outlined “erosion control measures had not been implemented, and removed vegetation had not been properly treated…”