Acid Mine Drainage in Idaho

Sep 24, 2015
The recent toxic mine waste spill into the Animas River in Colorado raises concerns that a similar spill could happen in the Boise River headwaters. The Boise River provides 25% of the City of Boise's drinking water and serves as a critical source of water for irrigation, recreation and fish and wildlife habitat. A mining company is currently capturing and treating contaminated water that is being discharged from a mine portal near the town of Atlanta. However, the company's plans are to simply plug the site and walk away. Untreated water wIll build up in the gallery of mine shafts until it found its way out - either through another mine opening, or a potential catastrophe if there is some type of structural failure, resulting in a large-scale release of mine waste into the river system. Our partners at Idaho Conservation League (ICL) are reaching out to the Forest Service and encouraging them to work with the mining company to revise the closure plan to avoid this potentially dangerous build-up of toxic water in the Boise River headwaters. In addition to revising the current closure plan, they are working to bring state and federal agencies together to prioritize cleanup efforts for abandoned mines with respect to public health or water quality concerns.
The proposed CuMo mine project raises concerns about the Boise River watershed. This exploration will entail construction of up to 10.2 miles of new temporary roads with 16 stream crossings, construction of 137 drill pads and mud pits, drilling of up to 259 drill holes, some of these hundreds of feet deep, and having up to 4 drill rigs on site. Our partner groups are concerned that the necessary steps to protect water from being contaminated by drilling operations have not been taken. The underlying problem is that the Mining Law of 1872 is still the law of the land, and declares that mining is the highest and best use of public land - more so than water for drinking, irrigation, recreation or wildlife. ICL is working with partners in DC to update this law.
We are pleased to provide you with these aerial photos to supplement your outreach and communication efforts. If you would like to use any of our photos, follow the links above, click the "Download Photos" button at the top right of the slideshow, click on the photo you want and hit the 'download' button above the photo. Please credit Bruce Gordon, EcoFlight for any photos used.
Bruce Gordon