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. Over the coming months, 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.
ACTION ALERT: K2 Gold and Mojave Precious Metals Town Hall Happening Wednesday, March 24th at 6:00 PM An opportunity to share your support for protecting Conglomerate Mesa with K2 Gold Questions and Mojave Precious Metals. K2 Gold and their subsidiary, Mojave Precious Metals, are hosting a virtual town hall Wednesday, March 24th, at 6 PM. We must rise up and stand together to protect Conglomerate Mesa. Now is the time to let K2 Gold know that mining at Conglomerate Mesa is not welcome! K2 is proposing to open up a wild and remote part of the west Mojave desert on…
Friends of the Inyo Commends Decision to Protect the DRECP [Press Release on DRECP] Friends of the Inyo Commends Biden Administration’s Decision to Protect the DRECP, California Desert National Conservation Lands In an announcement today, the Department of the Interior says it would put a stop to efforts by the previous administration to reopen the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP). Proposed changes would have rolled back key conservation protections, putting 2.2 million acres set aside for conservation at risk. The following is a statement from Jora Fogg, Policy Director, Friends of the Inyo in response to this announcement: “Friends…
Tribal Nations speak out on Conglomerate Mesa–Friends of the Inyo stands in support Friends of the Inyo stands in support as Tribal Nations call out K2 Gold for ignoring their consultation and request to stop mining at Conglomerate Mesa. Read the Timbisha Shoshone and Lone Pine Paiute Shoshone Tribes’ press release below. “Mining Company Threatens Tribal Resources in California Desert” Click here to read the official press release.
Changes to Desert Plan by Trump administration threaten California Desert Proposed rollbacks to the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan threaten 2.2 million acres of precious California Desert lands *UPDATE: Biden Administration Restores the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, Protecting 2 million acres of National Conservation Land. Click here to read more in our press release. “The Trump Administration continues its assault on public lands with an eleventh-hour attempt to gut the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP). These egregious proposed changes to a balanced and comprehensive desert plan that was nearly ten years in the making will strip meaningful…
In this newsletter, you’ll learn about the upcoming project timeline, action you can take, insights from a K2 Gold investors meeting, and findings from a wildlife biologist, Rachel Woodard! As we fight to protect Conglomerate Mesa, we must remember why we fight this fight. We fight to show solidarity with the Tribal Nations who have long protected Conglomerate Mesa. We fight for social justice. We fight for wildlife, the Joshua Trees and Inyo Rock Daisies that can’t speak for themselves. Together, we will send K2 Gold home and protect Conglomerate Mesa. Thank you for tuning in to Vol. 6 of the Conglomerate Mesa Newsletter.
Take an EcoFlight Over Conglomerate Mesa Join us on a guided flight over Conglomerate Mesa with Desert Lands Organizer Bryan Hatchell in this video created by our partners at EcoFlight. View the Mesa from a whole new perspective and learn about the area’s precious values and the threats they are facing from mining giant K2 Gold and their “Mojave Project.” Join us in fighting for the protection of Conglomerate Mesa. EcoFlight educates and advocates for the protection of remaining wild lands and wildlife habitat using small aircraft. The aerial perspective and our educational programs encourage an environmental stewardship ethic among citizens…