Clean water advocates rally against gold mining in the Black Hills
The U.S. Forest Service responds to concerns
RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - A new draft decision by the U.S. Forest Service that would allow Minnesota mining company F3 Gold to explore for gold near Pactola Reservoir is causing clean water advocates to speak up.
“We are building awareness of what’s going on and encouraging people to protect their water supply,” said Lilias Jarding with the Black Hills Clean Water Alliance.
Jarding is worried F3 Gold’s mining and exploring activities in the Silver City area could harm Pactola and the creeks that feed into it affecting Rapid City water sources and Black Hills Recreation.
“So, the water that Rapid City uses, that Ellsworth Air Force Base uses, would be directly threatened by mining activity in the place that they want to do exploration. So, we want to make sure that the public knows about this issue, that they know that it could impact their outdoor recreation and the tourism economy and that they will take action to protect their water supply,” explained Jarding.
While people against gold mining urge the community to get involved, Jim Gubbels with the US Forest Service responded that this isn’t a mining project.
“It is a gold exploration project. That is what was presented to us by the company, F3 Gold, back in December of 2018 and that’s what we’ve spent the last 3 and a half years reviewing and analyzing is a gold exploration project,” said Gubbels and added that some that reviewing came from others’ input.
“We certainly recognize the concerns that have been brought to us. I think our process over the last 3 and a half years has been very thorough and very comprehensive and has encouraged a lot of public comment and engagement as well as stakeholder engagement,” stated Gubbels.
According to Gubbels, whether or not the exploration could lead to mining in the future is up for speculation.
If mining were to develop, it would require an entirely new comprehensive environmental review process.
The US Forest Service does not a have position on the project.
According to Gubbels, they are recognizing F3 Gold’s legal, valid mining claims on National Forest lands.
Members of the public and stakeholders who provided previous comments throughout the process can file an official objection against the project.
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