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.
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…
National Hispanic Heritage Month is observed from September 15 through October 15. Friends of the Inyo is celebrating with our community by sharing the meanings of just a few Spanish-language words in the nature and conservation arena that have made their way into English. Today’s word is mesa, which in English means an isolated relatively flat-topped natural elevation usually more extensive than a butte and less extensive than a plateau, according to Merriam-Webster Online. It is a geological term that comes from the Spanish word for table. An English word sometimes also used for mesa is tableland. An example of a…
By Kathy Bancroft Lone Pine, California, the town where I was born and have lived all my life, sits in the valley by Conglomerate Mesa a mile from Death Valley National Park. I call the place Payahuunadü, meaning “land of flowing water.” The Mesa hosts a vibrant, beautiful and productive ecosystem of rare and unique desert plants, as well as culturally sensitive and archeologically significant artifacts. Returning to the Mesa, I am thrown back to my childhood, gathering pinyon nuts, listening to my relatives share our stories, and performing traditional rituals. Conglomerate Mesa is the traditional homeland of my people,…
In case you missed our Desert Policy Associate Bryan Hatchell’s interview with KMMT FM Arts, Culture & Entertainment (ACE) Show Host John DeMaria on August 13, please use the media player below to listen to the full interview. Bryan provides a good education on the natural, cultural and environmental value of Conglomerate Mesa as he appeals to listeners to provide public comments to the Ridgecrest Bureau of Land Management by the August 30, 2021 deadline. After listening to the show, please visit the Protect Conglomerate Mesa Website, ProtectConglomerateMesa.com, and click on our Action Alert to access important information, including our…
In their next phase of destructive gold exploration, Canadian company K2 Gold, through its subsidiary Mojave Precious Metals, LLC, is proposing to build 2.7 miles of brand-new roads and 1.1 miles of overlanding routes to access 30 different drill sites and drill 120 holes on Conglomerate Mesa. The total impact is estimated to be 12.2 acres, more than 61 times as much as K2 Gold’s previous exploration activities. Comment by August 30th to #ProtectConglomerateMesa from K2 Gold’s proposed mining activity!
This issue contains the time-sensitive news that the Ridgecrest BLM has announced the opening of a Public Scoping Comment Period for K2 Gold and Mojave Precious Metals’ (MPM) next gold exploration proposal at Conglomerate Mesa. This destructive project proposes miles of new road construction and 120 drill holes in wilderness-like lands. Friends of the Inyo urges you to comment now and stand up for this beloved landscape. Read below for all details and materials to help you make comments. The deadline to comment is August 30th! Don’t wait!
BISHOP, CA — Today, the Bureau of Land Management announced the opening of the public comment period for the proposed mining project at Conglomerate Mesa, located on traditional homelands of the Paiute-Shoshone and Timbisha Shoshone and about one mile from California’s Death Valley National Park. K2 Gold’s proposal will impact at least 12 acres of Conglomerate Mesa. The company proposes to drill 1,000 feet down at seven locations to collect samples for gold analysis and to develop nearly three miles of new roads. Mining and drilling in the region would permanently destroy cultural resources and traditional cultural use sites, as…
In their next phase of destructive gold exploration, Canadian company K2 Gold, through its subsidiary Mojave Precious Metals, LLC, is proposing to build 2.6 miles of brand new roads and 1.1 miles of overlanding routes to access 30 different drill sites and drill 120 holes on Conglomerate Mesa. The total impact is estimated to be 12.2 acres, more than 61 times as much as K2 Gold’s previous exploration activities. The Ridgecrest Bureau of Land Management has opened up its 30-day public scoping comment period through August 30th. If you love Conglomerate Mesa and want to protect it, participate now!
Opinion: Gold mining not necessary for renewable energy future By Wendy Schneider, Executive Director, Friends of the Inyo There are many reasons to protect Conglomerate Mesa, ancestral homeland of the Shoshone (Newe), Paiute (Numuu), and Timbisha Native Americans. These include its profound cultural significance to the area’s tribes, its rare endemic plants, its thriving high altitude Joshua Tree forest, its spectacular dark sky, its irreplaceable geological fossil record, recreation opportunities, and the home it provides for wildlife. At this moment all of Conglomerate Mesa’s values are threatened by mining exploration. There has been a lively debate about the merits of…
Three beautiful Eastern Sierra landscapes, Conglomerate Mesa, Long Valley and the Bodie Hills, are under threat from foreign mining companies whose proposed projects would generate profits for them at the expense of destroying economically and ecologically important landscapes in Inyo and Mono counties. These projects threaten the scenic beauty of our landscapes with toxic contamination of soil and water, damage to the habitat of struggling species, dust, noise and light pollution, all conditions that are detrimental to our area’s recreational tourism and ranching economy. These proposals to destroy lands for profit also show great disrespect to the Eastern Sierra’s native…