U.S. Forest Service
Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness
A major step toward allowing gold drilling in the Payette National Forest is expected today when U.S. officials publish their draft decision in the Federal Register, indicating their support for the project.
This week's McCall Star-News reports
that the publishing of the draft decision will trigger a public comment process
, which will run through Monday, Feb. 23. Final approval for the project could come as soon as mid-March.
The proposed project from the American Independence Mines and Mineral Company targets the Golden Hand mining claim inside the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, just north of the Big Creek trailhead and approximately 19 miles north of the town of Yellow Pine.
reports that Independence Mines wants to dig at 11 separate drilling pads to look for traces of gold. To do that, the company says it would need to improve nearly eight miles of existing road to allow equipment to come into the area. An environmental impact study in 2012
attracted nearly 20,000 public comments, most of which urged the U.S. Forest Service to bar the project from going forward.
You can read a full copy of the U.S. Forest Service's draft record of decision here.