FOREST SERVICE FAILS TO INSURE RECLAMATION OF GOLD OPERATIONS

We have gathered some information on a proposed gold exploration project near Rockerville. It is called the Golden Meadows Placer Exploration Project, and the claim it’s on is owned by Dan Hoff, Darcy Van Hout, and James Van Hout of Rapid City. All three of these claimants have had other claims in the area.

We need people to write comments on this project, which are due to the Forest Service by June 3, 2020.

The proposed project would involve digging test holes with a backhoe in a grid pattern, about 50 – 100 feet apart. Each hole would be ten feet in diameter and would be dug down to bedrock. The Forest Service letter requesting public comments does not say how many holes would be dug or how deep the holes would be to reach bedrock. The range of 50 to 100 feet apart is not very informative, either. If they are 50 feet apart, there might be twice as many holes as if they are 100 feet apart.

The Forest Service suggests that this project should be handled using a categorical exclusion — which is to say they want to let it go ahead without much environmental review. Given that we don’t know the extent of the damage that this project could cause to the environment, it is important that every comment letter request more information and request that at least an Environmental Assessment be completed. We need information on the extent of damage the project would cause, cultural resources review, and water impacts, among other things.

Please send a comment letter — short is fine — no later than June 3 to comments-rocky-mountain-black-hills-mystic@usda.gov in plain text, rich text, PDF, or .doc format. Put “Golden Meadows Placer Exploration Project” as the subject. Thanks.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

FOREST SERVICE FAILS TO INSURE RECLAMATION OF GOLD OPERATIONS – IS CONSIDERING NEW GOLD EXPLORATION

May 25, 2020

The Black Hills National Forest has failed to insure reclamation of old mine sites near Rockerville, SD, but is already considering more destructive gold activities in the area. On May 5, the Forest Service issued a request for comments on “Golden Meadows,” a proposed gold exploration project near Rockerville. The project would include using a backhoe to dig 10-foot-diameter holes down to bedrock. The Forest Service does not say how many holes would be dug as part of the project or how deep bedrock is located.
Juli Ames-Curtis, a Custer resident with a background in Resource Management, traveled to the proposed Golden Meadow site and found that the area was riddled with unreclaimed mining operations. The attached photos show some of the piles of rocks and debris, land disturbance, downed timber, and holes that are currently visible. A search of government records found that 31 claims have been made on Forest Service lands in the portion of that section of land that the Forest Service controls. The claims for which a year was listed ranged from 1982 to 2019.

As Ames-Curtis observed, “It was quite apparent to me by the numerous large piles of mining debris and deep erosion that intensive mining has taken place at this site over the years.  It appears there has been no reclamation at this site or others in the vicinity.”

Black Hills Clean Water Alliance calls on the Forest Service to insure reclamation of past sites before issuing permission for further destructive exploration. “The Forest Service needs to issue its plan for reclamation of the extensive damage in the area of the Golden Meadow claim before proceeding with a process that would lead to more damage in the area,” said Dr. Lilias Jarding. “The public deserves – and has the right to — full transparency and the protection of land and water around all gold operations in the Black Hills region.”

Photos courtesy of Juli Ames-Curtis

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