You can read my previous thoughts on this project, gold in general and my belief we need royalties and appropriate bonding in place for hard rock mineral mining by scrolling through this blog.
The idea that Midas Gold wants to put the East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon River into a 10-foot wide pipe for 4,200 feet so they can get at the gold in the stream bed isn't new. Midas Gold has been forthright in expressing its desire to do this. They are also thinking of building a 500-foot tall dam for their tailings and slurry pond.
The East Fork (for short) holds endangered chinook salmon, steelhead and bull trout. It is also a destination for kayakers.
I have in the past cautioned that this company could extract its fill in gold and other metals and minerals and then go belly up before implementing its reclamation plan. If that were to happen the taxpayer, who currently would not directly benefit from this foreign extraction of domestic natural resource wealth, would foot the bill to clean up whatever mess this company could leave in its wake.
I know why predators prey upon the weak, but I don't know why animals with the ability to reason still choose to go into areas where the economy has recently lost its former identity and choose to exploit an area and its people for personal gain. It happened with a resort in this area not long after the timber industry virtually disappeared and if we, the people of Valley County, are to allow that sort of scenario to present itself again, then it shall surely mean shame on us.
We must stand up and speak for our natural resources and our natural heritage or we will simply be all the poorer for not doing so.
I understand the attraction in an area that is almost completely devoid of living wage jobs. I understand any public entity's desire to expand its tax base, but it is not like we don't remember the ill effects of the foreclosure on Tamarack, the bankruptcies and subsequent foreclosures that to this day mean this is a buyer's market if indeed any buyer can in fact find us with our one highway for ingress and egress.
In the end, this has to be about trust and not short-term jobs and short-term increases in the tax base. Our only selling point is our incredible wealth of nature that surrounds and inspires us and those tens of thousands who come to visit us.
As my Idaho Conservation League has said about putting the river into a pipe, this is a non-starter.
For those who ultimately decide whether or not this project gets the go ahead, remember these jobs and any increase in tax base disappears virtually overnight when the price of gold recedes with the lingering recessed economy.
Do not simply say yes because we need the jobs or increase in revenues. Do not sell our natural resources and heritage low while the buyers sell it high and could leave us poorer and with a huge mess to clean up.
I don't know the proven resources that Midas Gold has at its disposal, but to have the audacity to propose such an environment-altering project they should show bonding of 15 percent of the $11 or so billion they believe the claim has and they should offer up a royalty payment of 15 percent of what they actually do extract from our ground to the people and agencies of Valley County and Idaho. Anything less and this won't pan out.
This area can't afford another economic debacle like we have had and are still feeling the far reaching effects. If this company cares anything about the people of this area and the government entities that will be taxed to provide for this audacious proposal then it will begin immediately showing a greater sensitivity to how it wishes to interact with our land, streams, fish, wildlife and people.