Cantwell, Murray, Newhouse Applaud Forest Service Recommendation to Protect Methow Valley from Mining
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), and U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA, 4th District) applauded a recommendation made by the U.S. Forest Service to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to withdraw 340,000 acres in the Methow Valley from consideration for mining for a 20 year period.
“From salmon to farming and outdoor recreation, the Methow Valley holds a special place in the Washington way of life,” Senator Cantwell said. “We can’t afford to lose this area to copper mining. I am encouraged the Forest Service is taking this important step, and I will continue working with the Department of the Interior and the local community to move the process forward and protect the Methow Valley for generations to come.”
“At a time when so much of our environment and public lands are under attack, this is incredibly welcome news,” Senator Murray said. “It’s been my mission to carry the concerns of the Methow Valley community to Washington, D.C. to make sure we are protecting this environmentally-sensitive area and continuing to support the Valley’s thriving outdoor recreation economy.”
“The Methow Valley is a natural wonder, and the Headwaters is an ecological treasure,” said Rep. Newhouse. “I am pleased that the U.S. Forest Service’s completion of this assessment responded to the local community’s expression of broad support for mineral withdrawal. I will continue to work with Secretary Zinke to have this withdrawal finalized.”
The Forest Service’s recommendation to withdraw the area from mining consideration comes after the completion of an Environmental Assessment. The Bureau of Land Management must now schedule a public meeting on the proposal, before a final determination on the withdrawal is made at the Department of the Interior.
Nearly one million tourists visit the Methow Valley each year to enjoy the sun, snow, streams, and wildlife, contributing more than $150 million annually to Okanogan County’s economy. The upper Methow is essential to salmon recovery, and more than $100 million has been invested in restoration and conservation efforts. Federal, state, local, and private investments have gone to land protection, restoration, and restoration projects across the Methow River watershed, supporting outdoor recreation, farmland preservation, and salmon and wildlife habitat enhancement and restoration activities.
The Upper Methow Valley is home to seven federally-protected fish and wildlife species, including the Northern spotted owl, grizzly bear, Canada lynx, spring Chinook salmon, steelhead, and bull trout. Healthy and intact habitat is also home to bald and golden eagles, martens, mountain goats, mule and white-tailed deer, and wolves.
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