Making decisions to not mine national forests

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.

4 thoughts on “Making decisions to not mine national forests”

  1. Say what LATimes? Insofar as the SGMNM is concerned, it was President Obama’s Proclamation that included a mineral withdraw. Bad reporting!

  2. Also, even given the difference between small and big w wildernesses, it’s hard to think the San Gabriels are aw wilderness, if their problems include the overcrowding and roads ones cited..
    It’s also of note that

    “Deeming the lands a monument was a strategy intended to increase interest and attendance — and with them, donations. So far, fundraising efforts have been relatively modest, and because fire seasons are growing longer, wildfire suppression has eaten into a greater portion of the Forest Service’s budget each year.”

    So the new plan is limiting recreation due to impacts, but the monument status was to increase attendance.. seems like they’re at cross purposes. I’d like to understand the mechanism of how monument status is supposed to increase funds (specifically appropriate funds? How? partner funds? Are communities with new influxes of tourists giving some to the FS ? Are new partners coming online with $? Are regular people expected to donate more? Will monuments charge for access?)

    Because it doesn’t seem to be working in many places.

  3. Here’s a quote that addresses your last question: “Since the dedication, corporate and nonprofit donations totaled $6.5 million, money used to restore habitat, add new signs and begin improvements to the Cattle Canyon picnic area, he said. “I’m pretty confident we will build upon success upon success and create a better visitor experience,” Vail said. “We are moving the needle and leveraging some things that we were able to accomplish but we still have a long way to go.”

    The article also identifies specific areas where use would be more restricted, but presumably they are planning on expanded use elsewhere where the impacts are more manageable. The San Gabriel Wilderness is only part of the national monument (presumably not where the picture for the above article was taken).


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