No Mining in Our Nation’s Most Wild and Treasured Places

Alaska possesses some of the most remote wild places remaining in the United States.  Particularly within the Eastern Interior region of Alaska, three areas have achieved national management designations which recognize their unique characteristics for recreation, wildlife, habitat and subsistence:

  • The White Mountains National Recreation Area (NRA) was specifically set aside for recreation – with opportunities such as floating the Beaver Creek Wild and Scenic River, skiing, dog sledding, camping, hiking and much more;
  • The Steese National Conservation Area (NCA) was set aside to restore the Birch Creek National Wild and Scenic River, protect caribou and Dall sheep habitat and for outstanding recreation opportunities;
  • The Fortymile Wild and Scenic River corridor, south of the Steese NCA, was established to maintain and improve fish and wildlife habitat.
  • In addition, the Upper Black River, the most remote and wild area of this region, is home to the northernmost nesting bald eagle population, salmon spawning headwaters, and is an important traditional use area for Alaska Natives in the area.

Now the American public has a chance to weigh in on the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) draft Resource Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement. Tell the Secretary of Inteior these areas must be protected from large-scale hard rock mining operations in the White Mountains NRA and from opening the Upper Black River area to small gold dredge operations. Mining is devastating to the land, water, wildlife and people. The Bureau of Land Management must manage the Eastern Interior to protect the world renowned recreation, subsistence, wildlife and natural values that currently exist.

I appreciate BLM Alaska State Director Bud Cribley’s acknowledgement about the importance of public input when creating land management plans for public lands.  As a member of the public, I ask you to protect some of the last remaining wild places in Alaska’s Eastern Interior  through the Resource Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement process.  The White Mountains National Recreation Area, the Steese National Conservation Area, the Upper Black River and the Fortymile Wild and Scenic River all deserve the strongest protections possible.  Alternative B provides protection from mining claims in the Upper Black River and hardrock mineral leasing programs in the White Mountains.  These are important areas to protect for people in the area who use these lands year-round and for all Americans who come to experience wilderness and world-class recreation.

Thank you for ensuring the strongest possible protections for these special places within the Eastern Interior and safeguarding some of our nation’s most wild and treasured places.

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