Mitigation for the Buckhorn Mine
In the 2008 settlement agreement, OHA negotiated for mitigation beyond what the agencies required, which included significant onsite and offsite mitigation to streamflow and wetlands with additional long-term independent oversight.
Invasive weeds were an ongoing problem in mitigation. The photo above shows invasive weeds that took over areas where Crown/Kinross planted a variety of seedlings at the Myers Creek Mitigation Site. The photo on the far right shows musk thistle, which was routinely sprayed after it had already gone to seed.
Mitigation Provisions Included:
- As long as they are operating the dewatering wells, Crown will augment the headwaters of Gold and Bolster creeks to maintain seasonal baseflow.
- After closure of the mine, Crown will retire 25 acres of the Lost Creek Ranch irrigation water (15 acres more than the agencies required). This would add water to Myers Creek and Bolster alluvial fan groundwater to replace the predicted permanent reduction caused by mining.
- Crown agreed to permanent conservation easements of their mitigation sites including the reclaimed mine site and will open them for public access.
- Crown will also fund a significant amount of additional mitigation sites throughout the area.
- Crown will fix problems with residents’ wells that are caused by mining activity.
- Crown will make a good faith effort to minimize truck hauling on weekends.
Ecology justified the permit approvals for Kinross’s mine on the assumption that enough mitigation was provided to offset its impacts.
The Original Crown/Kinross Mitigation Plan & What It Provided For:
|Mitigation Plan||Issue Meant to Address|
|Kinross will keep the cows out of the water on their own property at the Pine Chee wetland where Bartroff Rd meets the Beaver Canyon Rd.||Keeping the cows out is supposed to compensate for the groundwater drawdown at seeps and springs in the headwater of Bolster Ethel and Gold Creeks due to mine dewatering.|
|Livestock exclusion and some restoration on Kinross’s overgrazed property on Myers Creek near Canadian border. Kinross will relinquish stock water right.||Long-term change in the groundwater flow away from Myers Creek|
|Up to 12 acres of the Leslie Ranch will not be irrigated during mining plus three years.||Dewatering Buckhorn Mountain|
|10 acres of alfalfa will be taken out of production after mining is over. (Note: cows would be moved to an upstream tributary)||Long-term reduced stream-flow in Myers Creek|
|Four wildlife guzzlers in headwaters of Myers Creek tributaries.||Long-term reduction in headwaters seeps and springs|
|Discharge treated mine water to augment Nicholson and Maris Creek depletion (none for Bolster, Gold and Ethel Creeks). Culvert Replacements.||Impacts to fish from water depletion and sedimentation|
|Plant 500 trees and shrubs on Marias Creek.||The misleading issue was that this planting was on property that had not been grazed and was already fully vegetated.|
“The ARMP [Aquatic Resources Mitigation Plan] focuses on preservation and limited enhancement of off-site resources, not on actual compensation for or replacement of lost resources…. Many of the resources proposed are already in existence and are already protected by existing laws. Since these sites already provide some valuable function to aquatic resources, the additional protection of these resources as proposed in the ARMP provides no real compensation for the impacts from mining operations.”– PCHB statement regarding BMG’s mitigation for the proposed Crown Jewel Mine, January 2000