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[image-1]The U.S. Forest Service recently released a report that found no significant environmental impact to the groundwater near the proposed exploration site—14 miles northwest of Idaho City. There, geologists say, are some of the largest molybdenum deposits in the world. Molybdenum is used to strengthen steel in construction and fertilize crops.

This is just one more step in a long process to allow CuMo Mine Corporation to begin exploring the area for a potential open pit mine near the headwaters of the Boise River. What the Forest Service issued was only a draft decision, so now concerned parties such as private landowners, communities living downriver of the proposed exploration site and environmental groups can come forward with concerns. 

The Idaho Conservation League has a few.

"Our initial review finds concerns for how downstream fisheries are going to be protected and how fuel haul will be handled," said ICL's public lands director John Robison.

By fuel haul, he means the amount of diesel fuel it will take to run exploration drills constantly will be tremendous, and all that fuel must be trucked up winding, narrow roads following the Boise River. His fear is that a truck could topple over into the river, creating a gas spill.

After receiving objections from the stakeholders, the Forest Service will have about a month to go through an objection resolution process, in which the agency can modify the project, strengthen report rationales or nix authorization for the project altogether.

According to a report on KTVB, Phil Bandy—a senior scientist with Forsgren Associates, Inc., based in Boise—spoke on behalf of CuMo Mining Corporation and said the new exploration methodologies are more environmentally friendly than ever. 

Robison raised an eyebrow at that. 

"This is not just a great concern for Grimes Creek, Mores Creek or Lucky Peak," Robinson told Boise Weekly. "If there's one thing we've learned from wildfires upstream, it's that lakes do not function as a protective barrier for communities downstream as folks had previously thought. Fine particles [from wildfire] slipped through the reservoir and make the Boise River quite muddy. And that was just silt and ash. We're really concerned about what could come from a large open pit mining project."

He said he worries about the increased development of the mining area if exploration proved promising, as well as loss of shade, heavy metals in the water and acid mining. 

"All this is happening coming up on Boise River floating season," he said. "We're all investing money into whitewater parks and focusing on what a valuable commodity the Boise River is. It went from being the second most polluted river in Idaho to the most recreated one. Meanwhile, the Forest Service is looking at things that could jeopardize all that."

Objections to the draft decision are due on Sunday, May 24, but can only be offered by people who have previously submitted comments on this process.

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