Nestled between Malpais Wilderness Area, Cerro Gordo Wilderness Study Area, the Owens Lake Bed and Death Valley National Park is Conglomerate Mesa; poised and formidable. These 22,500 acres of roadless BLM terrain are unconfined, rugged, and brimming with rich desert life and cultural history. Yet, despite the many values of this land, Conglomerate Mesa is at the threat of a large scale open pit cyanide gold mine.
In April 2020, a new company officially took over the Conglomerate Mesa gold exploration project. They are called K2 Gold, headquartered in Vancouver Canada. The company has submitted an expanded proposal requesting miles of new road construction into the Mesa and 30 additional drill sites, totaling 120 drill holes. The Ridgecrest BLM will issue two public comment periods for Conglomerate Mesa and this mining proposal. First will be public scoping in the Summer of 2021. Then in the Fall, if K2 Gold is still pursuing this project, the Ridgecrest BLM will issue either a Draft Environmental Impact Statement or an Environmental Assessment. The people of Inyo County and the California Desert will do everything in their power to halt the road construction project and additional drilling in its tracks.
In the face of this threat, Friends of the Inyo and our partners are seeking permanent protection of this beloved desert gem. Without it, we will continue to fight perennial battles with mining companies who want to destroy this land.
K2 Gold wants to destroy Conglomerate Mesa. Together, we will stop them.
Conglomerate Mesa is too special a place to sacrifice to industrial-scale mining. These activities would permanently destroy important cultural, historic and geologic values that for so long have meant so much to so many. These resources deserve to be preserved for future generations.
- Conglomerate Mesa allows for unconfined recreation and solitude. Accessed by foot or a challenging 4×4 wash, the mesa provides for hunters, desert sky seekers, backpackers, campers, photographers and so much more.
- The history of human presence at Conglomerate Mesa runs deep. This land was home to populations long before European settlements. To this day, The Paiute and Shoshone tribes of the Owen’s Valley/Payahuunadu visit Conglomerate Mesa. The land has become an important site for annual pinyon nut harvest.
- Historic era mining features can also be found at Conglomerate Mesa. Charcoal pits found on the Mesa are particularly associated with early charcoal production for Cerro Gordo and smelters in the Owens Valley. Also, an old trade route called the Historic Keeler-Death Valley trail traverses the north end of the mesa and dates back to the late 1800’s.
- Conglomerate Mesa is an oasis for a number of sensitive and rare desert plants. For instance, the Mesa is a Joshua Tree woodland and oasis for the species. Conglomerate Mesa provides a place for Joshua Trees to thrive as we begin to lose this iconic species at lower elevations.
- Conglomerate Mesa is geologically significant, providing an unusually complete record that is key to unraveling the evolution of the continental edge of the southwestern US. This record would be destroyed forever by open-pit mining and cannot be made right through back filling or reclamation.
- Conglomerate Mesa is designated as California Desert National Conservation Land (CDNCL) and protected by the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP). These lands are to be managed by the BLM for the “benefit of current and future generations” while supporting the conservation and recreation values of the landscape. Conglomerate Mesa is a test of this plan. The procedures that either permit or deny exploration and the larger mine will set precedent for future mines on CDNCL and DRECP land.
Friends of the Inyo have been at the front of this battle every step of the way. With our partners, we are organizing at grassroots and grasstops to stop this mining threat. At this stage, we all must be prepared to fight K2 Gold’s destructive gold mining proposal. FOI is leading virtual trips and educating all who will listen while the community strives to permanently protect Conglomerate Mesa. We encourage you to join us in this fight! The Conglomerate Mesa newsletter and the general Friends of the Inyo newsletter is the best way to stay up to date on the latest information regarding the gold mining threat, outings, and the permanent protection campaign.
For me, Friends of the Inyo’s Dark Desert Skies Campout (May 20-22) was just as much about all we can see under Daytime Desert Skies! By Kayla Browne, Desert Lands Organizer Friends of the Inyo had a wonderful group of friends come out to learn more about dark skies and the beauty of Conglomerate Mesa and Centennial Flat over our three-day Dark Desert Skies Campout event that began with an educational evening at the Museum of Western Film History in Lone Pine. On Friday evening, May 20, we premiered “Island in the Sky,” a short film produced by Patagonia about…
The latest issue of Friends of the Inyo’s Jeffrey Pine Journal, now in its twentieth year, features timely conservation-related topics such as fire management, wayward balloon litter in nature, the 30×30 Initiative to conserve 30 percent of our public lands and coastal waters by 2030, and more. Click on the image above or this link to access and download a pdf version. Happy reading! Please remember that you can get a hard copy of the Jeffrey Pine Journal delivered to your home twice a year, in Spring and Fall, as one of the perks of membership with Friends of the…
By Jora Fogg, FOI Policy Director Last month, in conjunction with Earth Day, the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) released their final Pathways to 30×30: Accelerating Conservation of California’s Nature strategy to forward the global effort to conserve 30 percent of lands and coastal waters by 2030 (30×30). The plan focuses on protecting the state’s biodiversity, advancing equitable access to nature and addressing the climate crisis. The Pathways document was crafted by a dedicated team at CNRA through months of public engagement. More than 4,100 Californians engaged with the state to provide input through more than a dozen public meetings,…
We strongly recommend this read. Happy reading…And happy sharing!
Still Celebrating a BIG Win for Conglomerate Mesa! By Kayla Browne, Desert Lands Organizer After four years of defending Conglomerate Mesa from the greedy hands of K2 Gold and its subsidiary Mojave Precious Metals, we finally got a temporary win. On March 17th, K2 Gold announced in a press release an “indefinite suspension of activities at the Mojave Project.” K2 is the 11th company to threaten the Mesa since the 1980s. Conglomerate Mesa, the ancestral homelands and traditional territories of the Timbisha Shoshone and Paiute-Shoshone Tribes, is located in a remote area of the Inyo Mountains, east of Keeler, on…
“Worth More Than Gold Bike Tour” April 21 – 27 By Emily Markstein and Amber Rassler: The dream for this bike tour began last winter when Amber and I spent our weekends biking the Eastern Sierra. As we wandered roads less traveled, we dreamed about integrating our love for biking with our passion for environmental advocacy and action. At the heart of our conversations was the desire to add extrinsic value and purpose to our intrinsic weekend activity. After months of conversation, we saw an opportunity to make our dreams a reality. In May of 2021, we discovered a foreign…
Great coverage on the ongoing fight to ensure permanent protection for the “Sky Island” that is Conglomerate Mesa in Southern Inyo County.
Yesterday (3/17/22) K2 Gold, a Canadian mining company doing business in Southern Inyo County, announced that it is indefinitely suspending its controversial gold drilling project on Conglomerate Mesa, public lands located on the doorstep of Death Valley National Park. Tribes and other local groups are celebrating the news given the project posed a serious threat to Conglomerate Mesa’s ecological, cultural, and recreational values. Indeed, Conglomerate Mesa is “Richer Without K2 Gold.”
Since 1996, Public News Service has pioneered a model of member-supported journalism to engage, educate and advocate for the public interest. As a national network of 37 state-based news services, NPS’s journalists are on the ground in communities throughout the country, seeking out stories on critical issues that receive too little attention and helping to lift up marginalized voices that too often go unheard. Thanks to this new partnership, stories on the public lands protection and advocacy work of Friends of the Inyo will be disseminated widely to news outlets throughout California and beyond.
The Inyo Rock Daisy is at the center of a battle for Conglomerate Mesa – and, delicate as she is, this little flower just might help environmentalists win the war.
The California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) has released the “Draft Pathways to 30×30 Report,” a commitment to protect 30% of our state’s land and waters by 2030 to counter catastrophic biodiversity loss and mitigate the impacts of climate change. Friends of the Inyo’s goals align with those outlined in this report, and we are actively working to achieve those goals in our campaigns for Conglomerate Mesa and the Bodie Hills. We are sharing a Dec. 16 media release from a coalition of conservation partners statewide applauding the CNRA’s draft report.
Experience Dark Desert Skies at Conglomerate Mesa with Friends of the Inyo, Nov. 6 – 7 There are just a handful of spaces left for this outing that promises to be an exceptional learning experience under new-moon skies in a non-light-polluted part of the Northern Mojave Desert on Death Valley’s doorstep. Friends of the Inyo’s Dark Desert Skies Campout at Conglomerate Mesa will happen November 6-7, the weekend when Daylight Saving Time comes to an end, which means you will enjoy an extra hour of stargazing. Click on the media player button below to listen to Bryan Hatchell, FOI’s Desert…