CalTrout let you know earlier this year about a nickel mine being proposed in the headwaters of the Smith River in Oregon. We published an op-ed in May in the San Francisco Chronicle highlighting the threat.
We have now learned of the submission of a water license by the mining company to the Oregon Water Resources Department to extract water from a tributary of the North Fork Smith River.
California’s most pristine river needs your voice now! The Public comment period for this 5-year limited water license is open from June 24 until July 8, 2014.
The Oregon portion of the North Smith River watershed on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest is being targeted for a large nickel mine that would devastate the area for recreation and pollute water for municipalities of California. Proposed test drilling for the nickel mine requires thousands of gallons of water. The Red Flat Nickel Corp (owned by St Peter Port Capital, United Kingdom) applied to Oregon Water Resources Department for a 5-year limited license to take public water from Taylor Creek for industrial mining purposes.
I believe the limited license LL1533 should be denied because the water use would impair one of California’s last remaining salmon and steelhead strongholds. The Smith River is an economically important recreation area and water extraction by the mine would be a detriment to the public interest.
This proposed water diversion is the first of many potential impacts to the Smith River if this strip mine is approved. The strip mine will also leach toxic metals, increase sediment loads, and result in the accidental release of processing chemicals.
Smith River is one of California’s premier “Salmon Strongholds”. The Smith is home to coastal Chinook salmon, steelhead, coho salmon and coastal cutthroat trout. The Smith is the largest undammed river in California. The Smith deserves full protection from the threats of strip mines.
I urge you to protect the Smith River and deny the Red Flat Nickel mine’s application for a 5-year limited license to extract water from the headwaters of the Smith River.
Red Flat Nickel Corp. plans to drill 35 3-inch diameter holes to a depth of 50 feet to obtain core samples of minerals adjacent to existing roads. The location of the proposed mine is 8 miles east of Gold Beach, Oregon, in the area known as Red Flat within the Hunter Creek and North Fork Pistol River watersheds in the headwaters of the Smith River.
These exploratory mining operations are being reviewed by the Forest Service and there will be a NEPA comment period, anticipated for November 2014.
You can find more information at http://www.fs.usda.gov/projects/rogue-siskiyou/landmanagement/projects and clicking on RF-38 Test Drilling #41652.