State U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, both Democrats, have
introduced a new bill, the Methow Headwaters Protection Act of 2016, to protect
340,000 acres of National Forest in the Methow Valley from potential
development of a large-scale mine.
upper Methow is essential to salmon recovery, and more than $100 million has
been invested in restoration and conservation efforts in the Methow Valley
alone, says a joint press release from the two senators.
state, local and private investments have gone to land protection, restoration
and restoration projects across the Methow River watershed, supporting outdoor
recreation, farmland preservation, and salmon and wildlife habitat enhancement
and restoration activities, say the senators.
Upper Methow Valley is home to seven federally-protected fish and wildlife
species, including the Northern spotted owl, grizzly bear, Canada lynx, spring
chinook salmon, steelhead and bull trout. Healthy and intact habitat is also
home to bald and golden eagles, martens, mountain goats, mule and white-tailed
deer, and wolves, says the release.
legislation would restrict potential commercial activity and withdraw from
mineral entry any deposits that could lead to an industrial-scale mine on the
lands, and would protect the headwaters of the Methow River.
Methow Valley supports a local tourism economy, water resources, farming and
ranching, and rural communities, say the senators.
is clear that the Methow Valley is a source of pride and is central to the
region’s economic and environmental well-being,” said Murray. “I am proud to
work with the community to protect this environmentally sensitive area of the
Methow River Valley, ensure critical federal investments in salmon recovery are
protected, and continue to support the Valley’s thriving outdoor recreation
issues in the Methow Valley are paramount. That is why copper mining that could
impact rivers and salmon runs is something we can't risk,” said Cantwell,
ranking member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
one million tourists visit the Methow Valley each year to enjoy the sun, snow,
streams, wildlife and rural communities, and they contribute more than $150
million annually into Okanogan County’s economy.