Wednesday, March 31, 1999.
GREEN/Defenders of Wildlife 1999

OKANOGAN MINE REJECTED: The 3/30 Seattle Times reported the federal government ruled against the proposed Crown Jewel gold mine in Washington because it violated the 1872 Mining Law. The US Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management cited a clause in the law limiting a mine's mill site to no more than 5 acres. Modern day open-pit mines, including the proposed Crown Jewel mine, need mill sites of several hundred acres. The decision is expected to have repercussions for mines throughout the West. Dave Kliegman of the Okanogan Highlands Alliance said, "This is a tremendous victory for the rule of law. The agencies should be commended for applying the law in the face of the intense pressure from the mining company."

3809 HEARINGS BEGIN: The AP 3/23 reported mining proponents strongly opposed the Bureau of Land Management's proposed hard rock mining reforms at a public hearing in Reno, Nevada. While the agency says the reforms are needed to better protect the environment, pro-mining groups say the proposed rules would end a way of life and are unnecessary. Russell Fields of the Nevada Mining Association denies mining harms the environment. "Miners are environmentalists. I challenge the Bureau to show in Nevada where the environment is at risk because of any mine."

WATER WITHDRAWAL DRAWS OPPOSITION: On 3/25 Trout Unlimited, Water Watch, and Northwest Environmental Defense Center announced they intend to sue the Corps of Engineers for violating the Endangered Species Act. The Corps is proposing expanding water withdrawals on the Columbia River for agricultural irrigation, but failed to consult other agencies about affects on threatened salmon and steelhead. Jeff Curtis of Trout Unlimited said, "Before it approves another water withdrawal, the Army Corps had better make sure it won't push the salmon closer to extinction." Biologists have found existing water levels on the Columbia River are already too low to recover endangered runs of Snake River salmon.

EVERGLADES PURCHASE COMPLETED: Tampa Bay Online 3/26 reported the federal government completed the purchase of the 63,000 acre Talisman property in southern Florida from sugar growers. The purchase is seen as a critical component of Everglades restoration. About 50,000 acres of land now used for growing sugar cane will be used for water storage and the additional land will be used as filtering marshes.

STURGEON LISTING CONSIDERED: The 3/24 Birmingham News reported the US Fish and Wildlife Service is again considering listing the Alabama sturgeon as an endangered species. It was first proposed for federal protection in 1993 until the Interior Department backed down from angry opposition from the state's congressional delegation and business interests.

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