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Comments to BLM due April 11 -- Support White Mountains RECREATION not Mining

The public hearings were a great success! Of 60 people who testified at 2 recent hearings in Fairbanks, only 3 spoke in favor of opening the White Mountains National Recreation Area to mining. You have until April 11 to send in written comments. Please support Alt. B, the best for conservation and tell BLM what the White Mountains means to you!

Thanks for Speaking Up for the White Mountains at recent Public Hearings

Living in the Golden Heart City of Fairbanks, the White Mountains National Recreation Area is our backyard playground of accessible wild lands in winter and summer.  From skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmachine travel in winter, to paddling, hiking, climbing, hunting, fishing, and berry picking in summer, we cherish these lands for many kinds of recreation. 

Of 60 people who testified at 2 recent hearings in Fairbanks, nearly all spoke in favor of keeping the White Mountains for wildlands recreation, fish and wildlife and conservation purposes the way it is today, and keeping the National Recreation Area closed to mining.  Only 3 people spoke at the two Fairbanks hearings in favor of opening the area mining.  

QUICK ACTION: Sign the Petition to show support for the White Mountains

Sign our online petition urging BLM and the Interior Department to continue managing the White Mountains National Recreation area for RECREATION, not mining!  Please sign by Wed. April 10 to help us to reach our goal of 1,000.

Written Comments to BLM have big impact -- Due into them by April 11

BLM  supplemental draft White Mountains National Recreation Area (NRA) plan in January is considering whether or not to allow hardrock mining and gold dredging through a mineral leasing program on 180,000 acres of this beloved recreation area in Fairbanks’ back yard.  Our new Maps show the proposed mining areas relative to trails, cabins, campgrounds, and wildlife habitats.

Sign our online petition urging BLM to continue managing the White Mountains National Recreation area for RECREATION, without new mining!   

The White Mountains is the only National Recreation Area managed by BLM in the United States.  It is comprised of the watershed of Beaver Creek National Wild River which flows through its heart. Each year, over 35,000 people hike, float, ski, snowmachine, bike, snowshoe and enjoy this backyard wilderness.

BLM's proposal for hardrock mining and placer mining would open to this industrial activity 250 miles of headwaters to Beaver Creek Wild River and areas in the viewshed  of remarkable Mount Prindle, near Orphir Creek and Mount Prindle camp grounds, Richard's Cache Mountain, and Crowberry cabins, hiking and winter trails, fishing areas and river float use.  Today, there are no mining operations or mining claims present in the White Mountains NRA. While back in 1980 at ANILCA’s passage some existing mining claims were grandfathered in, all of those have all expired or been relinquished.  BLM should not open the area to new mining.

 BLM should continue to manage for its recreational values as proposed in ALt. B, and reject opening the White Mountains to hardrock mining and gold dredging because it is incompatible with recreation and conservation purposes of this area. New mining and industrial access would impact important habitats for Caribou and Dall Sheep within BLM’s proposed White Mountains and Steese Areas of Environmental Concern (ACEC), other fish and wildlife, water quality, hiking and winter trail enjoyment, scenic and scientific values.  BLM documented significant impacts of past mining.  Furthermore, BLM may be exceeding its limited authority under ANILCA to allow new mining in the White Mountains NRA. 

The agency also is veering away from management that for decades has emphasized wildlands recreation -- what it terms "Primitive" and "Semi-Primative" not more intensive access, so that today their inventory shows 99% of the area has kept its wilderness characteristics.  BLM's prefered Alternative C is so unbalanced (even without new mining) that only 1/3 of the lands would be managed to keep their wilderness.  Alt. B is the best, but needs to be improved so that most of the area is managed for its wilderness character and to retain the Primitive and Semi-Primitive Recreation Classifications.  Look below for more Points to Make in your comments! 

To submit written comments:  


Mail:  BLM Eastern Interior Field Office, Attn: Eastern Interior Draft RMP/EIS, 1150 University Avenue, Fairbanks, AK, 99709

Fax:  907-474-2282

Learn More about...  The Plan

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) seeks public comment on the future of the White Mountains for its new draft resource management plan for this area, the first update in 25 years.  Today, the White Mountains National Recreation Area lives up to its name, with an emphasis on recreation (it is closed to new mining and oil and gas).  You can help keep it the way it is today!

The huge plan for 6.7 million acres of BLM lands, the Eastern Interior Resource Management Plan and draft Environmental Impact Statement, covers White Mountains NRA and three other areas: Steese National Conservation Area, the Fortymile Area, and Upper Black River region where this is the first ever plan.  It also includes three Wild and Scenic Rivers (Beaver Creek, Birch Creek, and Fortymile) and Pinnell Mountain National Recreation Trail. 

Our new maps show the White Mountains NRA proposed mining areas relative to trails, cabins, campgrounds, and wildlife habitats and regional view of White Mountains with Pinnell Mountain Trail and Steese National Conservation Area.

Why Alternative B is best... and improvements that are needed

Alternative B is the conservation alternative because it emphasizes the protection of wildlife habitat, recreation, wilderness qualities, and subsistence values, although it needs to be improved to manage most of the White Mountains for its primative and semi-primative recreation and wilderness character. 

The BLM’s preferred Alternative C would weaken existing management for the White Mountains, and overall does not provide the strongest priority for wildlife habitat, recreational uses, and cultural values and opens more lands to oil and gas or mining and potential new road corridors.  The preferred Alt. C would BLM's prefered alternative C would open Steese National Conservation Area to new mining claims and oil and gas leasing (nearly 50% of the areas currently classified for semi-primative motorized recreation would be opened to development) and afford less protection to valuable caribou and sheep habitats.  Alternative D would open millions of acres of lands to mining and oil and gas compared with present management uses. 

The plan proposes four new Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) and Alt. B contains the best boundaries and management direction. Alt. B is the only one proposing the White Mountains ACEC for caribou calving and post-calving and Dall sheep habitat, and has a larger Steese ACEC; Fortymile ACEC to protect Fortymile caribou herd and Dall sheep habitat; Salmon Fork ACEC for salmon habitat, bald eagle nesting, rare plants (should be expanded to reflect public nomination for a larger area in the Upper Black River to protect the wildlife and cultural values). 

Alt. B could be improved with these additional measures:

1)  Road construction is not compatible with the designation and management priorities for the White Mountains or Beaver Creek Wild River and should be prohibited by the plan.

2)  All ANILCA, D-1, and other withdrawals should remain in place for the White Mountains NRA, Steese NCA and Upper Black River area and within the Fortymile National Wild, Scenic, and Recreational River segments, to keep them closed to locatable mineral entry and mineral leasing (including oil and gas).

3)  In the White Mountains NRA and Steese NCA, the boundaries of areas classified for Primitive and Semi-Primitive Recreation extent should not be reduced in size as they are in Alternative C and even in B.   The changes BLM proposes to decrease the primative management areas will facilitate mineral development and transportation corridors into the heart of the White Mountains.  Improve Alt. B to keep the White Mountains and Steese classified for recreation management the way it is today.

4)  The lands found to have Wilderness Characteristics should be managed so those values remain.  Today, the agency reports virtually all the lands in the White Mountains NRA are wilderness quality.  While

Alternative B is the most conservation focused of the Plan, even under this best scenario that BLM evaluated, there would be a loss of 50% of lands managed to retain their wilderness characteristics -- this is not an acceptable situation, so additional lands should be managed for these qualities, particularly north of Beaver Creek (in its stretch running East to West) and headwaters tributaries.    Under BLM's prefered Alternative C, the wilderness character of 69% of White Mountains NRA lands would be lost, and only 31% of the Recreation Area managed to retain lands with the qualities that the public enjoys and expects today. 

5) Monitor and mitigate climate change impacts, such as erosion, increased wild fires, and fisheries and habitat losses, though plans spelled out in the final plan to protect the health of the land.

Compare the places you love on this BLM White Mountains NRA trails map 

With this BLM Map of the Alt. D plan for Mineral Leasing Areas

If you want even more information, Alaska Wilderness League has some fine fact sheets:

Eastern Interior Resource Management Plan (Overview)

White Mountains National Recreation Area

Steese National Conservation Area

Fortymile National Wild & Scenic River and Caribou Management Area

Upper Black River Area 

Sign the Petition

We, the undersigned, are concerned citizens who support alternative B and urge our leaders and the BLM in its Eastern Interior Resource Management Plan to continue managing the White Mountains as a National Recreation Area without mine leasing.  Help us get to 1000 signatures!  Sign your name here!  

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