Here’s a role reversal for the Forest Service, who has recently been in the news more for making it easier to extract things from federal public lands.
New oil, gas and mineral exploration and development will be barred in the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument under a long-awaited management plan, released Thursday, governing the largest wilderness in Los Angeles County.
Of course the forest supervisor hinted that the main reason might be “there just aren’t any significant oil, gas, mineral or timber aspects to this monument.”
The U.S. Forest Service wants to ban new mining claims on about 30,000 acres of public land in the mountains north of Yellowstone National Park for 20 years, a move they say will hamper mine development and protect the environment.
Forest officials released a draft environmental assessment of the proposed withdrawal Thursday that considered potential environmental and economic impacts from future mine development. A 20-year ban wouldn’t affect existing mining claims but would likely limit future mining development.
The Forest Service’s environmental assessment will now be reviewed by the Department of the Interior, and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has the final say on whether the ban will be extended and for how long.
Zinke, who has opposed mining near the Paradise Valley, said in an emailed statement that he looks forward to “hearing from the community and seeing how we can work together to protect this area.”
Zinke has been accused of treating his native Montana different from other parts of the country.