Conglomerate Mesa Update


Conglomerate Mesa is, once again, under attack from mining interests. This is the first roadless area in California targeted for development under the Trump administration. We are not being alarmist when we say these exploratory drill sites are only the beginning. The ultimate land management goals of the current administration are explicitly extractive: mine the land until it stops making money, and then abandon it with as little regulation as possible.

Conglomerate in a natural, wild state is precious and irreplaceable for the following reasons:

• Conglomerate Mesa is a spectacular wilderness quality landscape of Joshua tree and Pinyon-pine woodland with elevations ranging from 3,800 to 7,100 ft. From the top of the mesa, visitors can see expansive views of multiple wilderness areas, Owens Lake, the glittering Sierra Nevada and into the expanses of Saline Valley and Death Valley National Park.
• The historic Keeler-Death Valley trail, circa late1800’s, crosses the north end of Conglomerate Mesa and should be preserved for its cultural and historic significance.
• The area is prized locally for deer hunting.
• Multiple special status and rare plant species are found within the proposed project area and will be impacted by drilling.
• Local tribes oppose the project as the mesa is an important tribal site for traditional uses.
• The area is rich in heritage resources exemplified by the remains of historic charcoal and stone masonry sites used in the late 1800’s to supply the Cerro Gordo mine.
• Tourism and recreation remain the primary driver of Inyo County’s economy: total direct travel spending in the desert region in 2013 reached $6.2 billion. While mining comprises only 3% of employment in Inyo County, industries that include travel and tourism comprise 33%.

Industrial-Scale mining would forever and irrevocably impact a natural resource and a beautiful place.

• The ultimate objective of this project is an open pit (cyanide heap leach) gold mine. Such an operation would permanently damage the area’s wild character, degrade wildlife and plant habitat, and pollute scarce local water systems. It’s well documented that cyanide heap leaching poses significant hazards to plants and animals from gold mining and related toxic water issues. Mining operations are likely to provide only limited local revenue and employment, while creating lasting environmental damage that will not only scar the land but degrade Inyo County’s reputation as a scenic, outdoor recreation destination.

The Environmental Assessment, currently open for public comment through Nov 20th, has four alternatives:
1) No-action alternative,
2) Construction of an overland route
3) Opening a road restored by the BLM in the 1990’s
4) Helicopter access

Friends of the Inyo asks you to write the BLM to suggest the “no-action” option and deny any permitting whatsoever for this project.

Join us and let’s work together for this place.