|Southern Inyo mining at risk?|
|Monday, 27 April 2009|
By Mike Gervais
Senator Dianne Feinstein is still considering a new set of wilderness designations in Inyo County that were proposed by the California Wilderness Coalition.
Patterson said one of the new proposals surrounds his Cerro Gordo Mine, but cherry stems his property.
"Even the mention of wilderness in the mining community is like shouting fire in a crowded theater," Patterson said. He added that in a previous meeting on the proposals, representatives from the Wilderness Coalition admitted that the wilderness designations are being proposed to "block out" mining in mineral-rich Southern Inyo.
Patterson said the new wilderness proposals, though Feinstein has not agreed to support them, have already had a negative impact on the area.
According to Patterson, Timberline Resources was looking into an operation in Southern Inyo, but decided to pull out when the Wilderness Coalition proposed the new designations.
He also said that there are two other prospectors looking at operations in the area, and they too will probably pull out if discussions continue about the wilderness designations.
Patterson said he told Feinstein's staffers that the Inyo County Board of Supervisors had gone on record opposing the new wilderness proposals and they "expressed surprise and expressed that they did not know the Board of Supervisors would hold such a position."
"I'm surprised they're surprised," Second District Supervisor Susan Cash said, noting that the board has sent at least one letter to Feinstein's office expressing opposition to the proposed wilderness areas.
Patterson said he directly asked Senator Feinstein to say, "in the media, that she would not support more wilderness" in Inyo County.
The staffers who were speaking with Patterson said they did not believe Feinstein would make that announcement at this time.
Patterson also said that Feinstein's staffers boasted about legislation the senator is supporting that would designate millions of dollars for clean-up and rehabilitation on abandoned mines throughout the West.
"I said that they didn't need to spend that money on clean-up if the mines could continue to operate," Patterson said.
According to Patterson, the Cerro Gordo Mining District is preparing for the senator to support the designations, and has gone through a reorganization that has given it standing as a federal, state and county mining district. By gaining federal status, Patterson said, the district will have the ability to coordinate with the senator and Wilderness Coalition on the wilderness legislation should Feinstein decide to support it.
The Mining District also updated its General Plan by adding new land-uses to the area it covers, allowing for wind, solar and other "natural energy uses," which would be banned in any wilderness designation that is passed.
Fourth District Supervisor Marty Fortney was grateful that Patterson took the initiative to meet with Feinstein's staffers to discuss the negative implications to the proposed wilderness designations.
"Thank you for meeting with them and continuing with this," Fortney said.
"We have to pay attention to our own business," Patterson said. "It's easy for them to ignore voices like myself, but the board's actions are critical."
Arcularius moved to write "yet another letter" to Feinstein's office voicing its opposition to the legislation.
|Last Updated ( Wednesday, 29 April 2009 )|