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Letter to the Editor: USFS must protect public lands from mining

The General Mining Law of 1872 or GML is outdated and has been amended many times over the years. The USFS is tasked with the responsibility of protecting the lands they govern.

Congress gave the USFS the tool they needed to stop Drake. The Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976. It in fact states the USFS "Must Not" allow unnecessary or undue degeneration of our public lands. There is no doubt that an eventual 850-acre open pit mine on and around the Mt. that the city of Williams is named after would be just that. "Undue Degradation!"

An open pit mine of any size will in fact negatively impact everything the Forest Service is tasked with protecting. This degradation would be unnecessary because pozzolan is available in other places. Drakes' own web site says that the 65-acre Frenchy pit has a 20-year supply.

There is also a multimillion-ton pozzolan site, shovel ready, on private land in Nevada, looking for a joint venture partner. That site is 15 miles from a rail head, Drake has a railhead.

So "Not Necessary!"

Drake wants to do test trenching to see if pozzolan is present, then if found, test it to see if it is even good enough to be mined. They don't even know if it's there or good enough to dig up.

The GML states a locatable mineral must first be discovered then an American citizen or corporation can claim it and mine it. Has it been located or not?

The proposed site is part of the watershed for the city of Williams, is covered in cultural sites, surface vegetation, is wildlife habitat and a migratory route for deer and elk, as well as an area that is enjoyed by many locals and tourist alike. Hiking, camping, and hunting just to name a few. Scenic vistas would be lost forever. Even allowing trenching is not necessary and will cause undue degradation and harm to the environment. We all need to speak up and voice our concerns and stand together in opposition to the Forest Service allowing mining there.

The GML of 1872 was enacted to help open the west, "The West Is Open!" Allowing mining here will in fact have the effect of closing the west. Thus, violating the spirit of that law. It takes out one of the most popular hiking trails in the area Benham Trail. Drake has also placed a claim that would also take out Bixler Saddle Trail, this trail takes you to one of the most beautiful places on Bill Williams Mt.

The FLPMA of 1976 was enacted to help save the west. The USFS Must abide by the FLPMA, it is law. The Forest Service "Must Not" allow this mine to move forward and should remove the lands in question and others like it from the mining district. Will the Forest service allow mining claims to be pulled for Sycamore Canyon, Sycamore Falls, Keyhole Sink, or other irreplaceable spots like them? Not having these lands pulled from the mining district already seems like an oversight.

The Forest Service can rest assured that all citizens will stand behind them doing the right thing and saying no to an open pit mine here to Drake. Drake should be ashamed of themselves for picking this site. On their own web site, they talk about community support and respecting the environment. Drake and its contractors are repeat offenders of the Kaibab National Forest Travel Management Plan. "Just Say No, Not Here!"

Kenn McKinney


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