If you were to ask me what I would hoard (stockpile) if we really were coming toward some sort of global scale natural disaster or for the kiddies a zombie apocalypse, I, unlike many people, would never even consider stockpiling gold. I would stockpile nonperishable food, water and a lot of ammo and take my family to a place where they would have shelter near a clean water source, safety and there I would start dispensing the stockpiled food until normalcy returns. If someone were to happen upon me and wanted to trade me their gold for my food or ammo, I would say no. I might provide this person with a charitable ration of food, but I would have no use for gold, even though I recognize the world has seemingly always had a use for gold. Your body doesn't need gold, it needs clean food, clean water and clean air and shelter. Therefore it is at best a secondary concern, one more of an archaic economic system (as we base no currency on gold anymore) that would falter up against a good supply of baked beans, quinoa, pastas, canned meats, peanut butter and jerky and the firepower to keep those foodstuffs secure from thieves.
Sorry for the preamble, but I've never valued gold highly. I know it is worth a lot of money, but beyond its applications in industry and in technology, gold is worthless to me because we mostly use it for adornments that really don't matter. Feel free to think I am a crackpot on the issue, but I used to tell people there was no way in hell their house was worth the amount the appraiser or assessor told them and that they ought to sell now when there was this great fiction surrounding the value of their homes. Of course, no one sold their homes and the real estate market crashed. I also told people that the prolonged high gas prices and this was even before 2008, this was like 2005-2006, that the prolonged high gas prices (especially for the working people who were in houses that were above their means) were going to cause cash flow problems for people who hold low equity, overpriced mortgages (again no one listened because hadn't I heard real estate is where it is at?) And that prolonged cash flow problems would lead to defaulting on mortgages. No one listened, and that wasn't ever really pointed out as a problem with the crash that came with the Great Recession, but the people with overvalued housing, low equity were mentioned. The necessity of driving to the jobs they had to keep to keep paying the bills coupled with gas prices that quadrupled within a short seven to nine year period was going to create serious cash flow problems that would creep up on people. No one listened, called me an idiot and said gas prices didn't matter, they weren't going to stop them from doing everything they did before. I don't know, maybe they were right. Maybe I'm missing the boat on gold, too. Maybe it really is worth the crazy amounts of money we assign to an ounce of the stuff. I doubt it. Sure someone will pay that inflated price all the way up until the day someone doesn't. Was that a bubble popping? And bottom line, i.e. survival terms, your body doesn't need it, so worthless.
In holding this very minority view of gold and sharing it, this opinion piece against this plan should come as no surprise to those who propose this claim validation four miles deep in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. I don't hold anything against them personally, just wish they would get into another line of business or work another claim not in wilderness or on a stream with or connected to streams with endangered fish.
The work they want to do to validate their claim so they can be prepared for a validation hearing requires they either work next to or in or drive through streams that have endangered Snake River Basin steelhead, endangered bull trout, westslope cutthroat trout (which should be at the very least listed as threatened) and are upstream of endangered Snake River spring/summer Chinook salmon.
The problem with this proposal is that their desire is legal, sure Golden Hand Mine claims No. 1 and No. 2 were invalidated at least twice before those decisions were later reversed, but they were given the legal go ahead in 2002 and then again in 2011 and the Ninth Circuit dismissed an appeal somewhere in between. You take that and the 1872 Mining Law that we still, for some strange reason, operate under, along with the various rules that are associated with grandfathered mining claims in wilderness and you get this very, stomach churning, proposed action that I don't think can be stopped. I think this because beyond the laws that support this validation of claims, they have a judge, a federal judge directing the forest to allow this to happen. "The Forest Service must recognize AIMMCO's right to prepare for a validating hearing and allow work to that end."
Their proposal can be altered. I would rather it be altered far more than the Payette's preferred alternative. I would require they hike in to the spot and only use hand tools, but instead the preferred alternative will allow for the construction of four miles of temporary road in Wilderness, one-tenth of a mile outside the wilderness boundary. The preferred alternative also allows the construction of approaches and creating some temporary fords across streams that do have various endangered and threatened fish species. There is also an Idaho Department of Water Resources ruling that has granted a temporary water right allowing AIMMCO to use 25,000 gallons of water per day from Coin Creek, which isn't the biggest and widest and grandest mountain stream for sure, but it is in the Big Creek drainage, which is one of Idaho's true fishing gems. Big Creek, for those of you who do not know, is a major tributary of the famed Middle Fork of the Salmon River, which then flows into the Salmon River, which then flows into the Snake River, which then flows into the Columbia River, which then empties into the Pacific Ocean if I may have a Book of Numbers or lawyer writing a property description moment.
The project is located 19 miles north of Yellow Pine, 291 acres of the 1,309 acre site are in the Frank Church. I will provide the DEIS and the comment period extension letter below for you because this is a plan that can be altered and it can be improved.
The company wanted to have 771 approved motorized round trips during the 100-day operating season each year, the preferred alternative cut it down to 571, but that's still nearly an average of six daily intrusions of the very fabric of the 1964 Wilderness Act. They plan 11 drill sites and plan to drill 13-18 core samples. The drill they will use will be track or skid mounted. They want to bring in a dump truck, 4X4 pickup truck, flatbed truck, bulldozer, a loader or small excavator and a few other things that don't belong in a designated wilderness area. I say picks and shovels boys, picks and shovels.
My concerns are going to be focused on the fish, the water, the watershed, the streams downstream, and the obvious affront to all things that make wilderness special. My concerns, though I do hold others as well, do not even take into account the damage to trees and other wildlife that will occur as they tear a road through there and drive to the site 571 times and from the site 571 times. My other concern is, after reading several of the constraints the Payette is placing on the company in the preferred alternative, how is the Payette National Forest, Krassel Ranger District going to be able to adequately monitor this?
Again, though, I don't value gold like everyone else. I value our fish and wildlife heritage, our wilderness and I don't want anything, anything creating a new obstacle to the restoration and recovery of wild Snake River steelhead and wild Snake River spring/summer Chinook salmon. Same goes for endangered bull trout and for westslope cutthroat trout, which to me should have been protected a few years back, but weren't.
You have 30 days after Aug. 17 to comment on this draft environmental impact statement (shared below) and I encourage you to do so. I think the real battle, though, is changing the 1872 Mining Law into something that fits the 21st century and strengthening the Wilderness Act and all subsequent acts that have modified or defined various allowable exceptions to the spirit of the law.