Salmon Need All of Us

Environment, River |

Salmon Need All of Us

Salmon have captivated our collective imaginations for generations and earned the reverence of many as they travel thousands of miles to the ocean and return to spawn. They nourish humans, creatures, birds and ecosystems. They are central to the culture of many Native American Tribes. They are a natural barometer for the health of our rivers and streams. And they are protected under the Endangered Species Act.

More than 130 different types of species depend on salmon as a food source, including orca whales, bears and eagles. In the Northwest, traditional life revolves around the salmon migration cycle. The multi-billion-dollar salmon industry supports thousands of jobs and strengthens local communities. These fish also support stronger forests and streambeds as they release marine-rich nutrients as they determinedly reproduce and then die.

Simply put, protecting salmon is critical to protecting our land, wildlife, watersheds and economies. Salmon must be saved, but it will take everyone working together – even mining companies – to succeed.

Midas Gold is proud to stand with generations of hardworking men and women who have produced the minerals we needed to move our country forward. However, while their efforts protected our nation and helped us grow, our industry has evolved and understands the important role we must play in environmental stewardship and Midas Gold is at the leading edge of that effort. Right now, through the redevelopment of the Stibnite Gold Project, we will address a problem that has affected water quality and prevented fish from returning to their native spawning grounds for more than 80 years.

During the 1930s, miners working in the historic Stibnite Mining District cut off access to pristine fish habitat in the upper stretches of the East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon River by digging a tunnel around, and opening up, the Yellow Pine Pit. Today, the river flows into this abandoned mine pit and salmon cannot swim past it. This isn’t the only problem fish must overcome. Hundreds of tons of sediment are entering the river each year at the site of a failed power dam, choking fish habitat. Water quality is threatened by metals from historic mine tailings that were never properly stored.

Many conservation groups, Tribes, utility companies and government agencies are working to find solutions for salmon restoration along the lower reaches of the river, but we can’t lose sight of the headwaters. We need to make sure salmon have healthy, thriving, accessible spawning grounds to return to each year. We also can’t lose sight of the tremendous value corporations bring to the table. Business generates the money we all need for pay for restoration work. We also need companies, like Midas Gold, that integrate sustainable thinking into their operations, so we can not only protect what is there now but deal with the legacies of the past.

To be clear, mining created the problems facing salmon in the headwaters at our site. Now, it is time for mining to be part of the solution. The issues in the East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon River will not go away by themselves and require large scale solutions. Our plan to clean up the headwaters goes well beyond what is required by current regulations. We believe the extra work is worth it to protect salmon and redevelopment of the site through responsible mining will provide us with the financial resources to make it possible to tackle these larger problems.

We will reconnect native salmon to their spawning grounds before operations even begin by creating a temporary passage around the existing pit and then rebuild the natural channel of the East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon River starting during year seven of operations. Fish will once again be able to swim upstream and have access to at least 3.4 miles of newly restored habitat and potentially many more miles of currently inaccessible streams. We will repair the damage from a failed dam to permanently keep sediment out of the river. And we will remove, reprocess and properly store the tailings that currently threaten the river and groundwater in order to improve water quality and fish habitat.

Salmon are vitally important to Idahoans’ way of life. There are so many issues threatening their existence, but I am encouraged by the efforts I see of many groups coming together to try to find answers to protect and enhance salmon populations. As we continue to work on the Stibnite Gold Project, you have our commitment to be part of the solution and do all we can to provide a healthy sustainable habitat for salmon to return after their long and heroic journeys.