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 under the threat of a large-scale open pit cyanide gold mine.
In April 2020, K2 Gold and it’s subsidiary, Mojave Precious Metals, took over the Conglomerate Mesa gold exploration project. 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. Thanks to the 23,800 public comments received during the public scoping period for the Environmental Assessment, the Ridgecrest BLM determined the proposed exploration project would require an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), a more rigorous and thorough analysis, to determine the suitability of the project. The Ridgecrest BLM will issue two public comment periods for Conglomerate Mesa and this mining proposal. The first will be public scoping in the Spring/Summer of 2023. Then the processes of evaluation will take approximately 18 months for the Ridgecrest BLM to issue a draft EIS. 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 1800s.
- Conglomerate Mesa is an oasis for a number of sensitive and rare desert plants. For instance, the Mesa is a Joshua Tree woodland and refugia 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 backfilling 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.
A quinceañera, a mild case of COVID, Friends of the Inyo’s partnerships and more! We have lots to be thankful for this Thanksgiving! Read all about it in the combined October/November Issue of The Juniper.
Conglomerate Mesa Western Joshua Tree Survey, October 21-23, 2023 Blogpost and Photos By Jaime Lopez-Wolters, Friends of the Inyo Desert Lands Organizer Conglomerate Mesa has been under threat from mining companies looking to extract gold from its soil since the 1970s. The latest company to try its luck is Canadian firm K2 Gold, through its local subsidiary, Mojave Precious Metals (MPM). Defenders of the land have always known that the area is special, not in the least because of the thriving high-elevation Western Joshua Tree forest that it harbors. Until recently, the value of these fragile, otherworldly desert plants was…
The California Fish and Game Commission voted today (Oct. 11, 2023) to permanently protect Inyo rock daisies as a threatened species under the California Endangered Species Act.“This vote is a huge victory for these special wildflowers,” said botanist Maria Jesus, whose field surveys document the plant’s current range. “With the threat of a massive gold mine looming on the horizon, this rare daisy now has help from the state of California to prevent it from sliding into extinction.”
Conglomerate Mesa needs our protection! Canadian company K2 Gold’s “modified” mining proposal could impact up to 15 acres of pristine lands that are sacred to Paiute-Shoshone and Timbisha-Shoshone peoples in Southern Inyo County, and a haven for thriving Joshua Trees and other threatened plants and animals. Join us Labor Day for a “Protect Rally” at Spainhower Park in Lone Pine, as we tell K2 Gold we want them to go home! Click on the image at left to download our flier. Help us share this information with others! Want to help us make posters for the rally? Come to Friends…
Your comments in 2021 against K2 Gold’s exploratory drilling operations at Conglomerate Mesa in Southern Inyo County caused the BLM’s Ridgecrest Field Office to consider requiring an Environmental Impact Statement. Now you have an opportunity, during the Open Comment Period from Aug. 16 to Oct. 16, to provide feedback on what the EIS should include. Check out our Action Alert to learn how to submit your comments to help #ProtectConglomerateMesa.
Earth Law, a new partnership to defend Hot Creek from mining, other collaborations, and lots and lots of events! But if you don’t read the August issue of The Juniper, you’ll never know! Happy reading…And if you like what you read, happy sharing!
Pine nuts, a high-energy food, helped sustain Native peoples of the Eastern Sierra through the winter. Friends of the Inyo’s annual impact report, which we usually release at mid-year to celebrate the previous year’s accomplishments, is symbolically named thus to acknowledge the support of our donors, funders, and volunteers, whose generosity sustains our work of protecting and caring for the land and water of the Eastern Sierra.
If you don’t read Friends of the Inyo’s Juniper E-Newsletter, you’ll never know all that we have coming up this month! And you might miss out on our Latino Conservation Week Outreach Event, Nature Connectivity and Credit, in Downtown Bishop Saturday afternoon/evening, July 15. There will be Latin music, raffles and FREE FOOD: Two tacos to the first 200 attendees, courtesy of AltaOne Federal Credit Union. Tell your amigos who don’t have credit – the primary aim of this event is to try to help people who are unbanked establish credit so they can access our National Parks, which are…
Speak Up On How Bureau of Land Management Lands Should Be Managed! – Attend an in-person or online public meeting in early June (two dates to choose from), and offer YOUR public comments on the BLM’s draft Public Lands Rule, a once-in-a-generation change on the Bureau’s land management priorities; and/or – Submit written comments by the June 20th deadline!
If you have not yet made up your mind about joining Friends of the Inyo for our FREE Spring Dark Desert Skies Campout at Conglomerate Mesa this coming weekend, May 19-21, perhaps listening to our Desert Lands Organizer, Jaime Lopez Wolters, talk about the wonders that await will entice you. Listen to his guest appearance on KMMT FM Radio’s Arts, Culture & Entertainment (ACE) Show last Friday, May 12, get to know him a little better, and learn what you will be missing if you don’t join us for what promises to be a wonderful experience under the stars!
Friends of the Inyo celebrates with our friends at the Center for Biological Diversity today’s announcement by the US Fish & Wildlife Service that the Inyo Rock Daisy may require federal protection under the Endangered Species Act! This rare, delicate flower lives in the Conglomerate Mesa area, which we are working to protect. Read the full media release.
Most of us live in places where we can only see a few of the brightest stars in the sky at night, but what if that didn’t have to be the case? Listen to Kayla Browne and Dan Duriscoe as they sit under a sky full of stars in Death Valley and discuss light pollution, bats, migrating birds, why dark skies are important, astronomy, places you can go to see a truly dark sky, and what can be done to bring stars back to our cities and our lives. It’s all in the latest episode of the Golden State Naturalist…