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June 04, 2014- Our View "Forest Service hurting economy"

Managers need to change environmental review process

The news last week that Kinross Gold is pulling its draft environmental plan to be able to drill core samples on publicly owned land came as a shocker to Okanogan and Ferry counties.

The company — which provides some of the last living-wage, non-governmental jobs in the region — said it is pulling the assessment after spending more than $10 million and five years trying to assuage the unwarranted concerns of federal bureaucrats. Unfortunately for the local economy, the U.S. Forest Service officials in charge of the environmental permitting process aren’t interested in the impact their overbearing demands will have here.

Kinross provides hundreds of jobs in both counties. The company donates time and money to local organizations trying to make surrounding communities a better place to live. But that doesn’t seem to matter to those officials.

If you take a drive in the highlands near the currently active Buckhorn mine, you’ll likely not even notice the firm is digging for gold thousands of feet beneath the surface. But that doesn’t seem to matter, either.

The fact is, the area’s economy depends, in part, on Kinross’ ability to continue prospecting and mining on public lands set aside for the benefit of area residents. Putting it bluntly, the U.S. Forest Service’s overbearing ways are hurting the local economy.

Okanogan and Ferry County commissioners realize how important it is to have a strong employer here that is committed not only to its business operation, but also surrounding communities. They have vowed to take up the fight with the federal government on behalf of not only Kinross, but all natural-resource based companies that provide jobs and contribute to the culture and communities here in North-Central Washington.

We support that fight.

U.S. Forest Service officials need to take a step back and realize how much their decisions are undermining the natural-resource based economy that made North-Central Washington. If they can’t do that, they should step aside and let local governments manage the land in a manner that both preserves the environment and contributes to the economy.

Comments

HammernHank 3 months ago

Dear Editor, Shouldn't common sense dictate Kinross Gold Corp, a Canadian corporation, be required to comply with the existing water protection requirements as previously agreed to before they start exploring new areas to destroy? Washington State was forced to fine the company for water quality violations in both 2011 and 2012, This is essentially at the very beginning of their operations. This is essentially acknowledging that the occasional fines for destroying water sheds is all part of the master business plan. Jobs, even the low paying Kinross Gold Corp jobs are desperately needed in Okanogan County. But are we so desperate we might barter away our resources for 8 - 10 years of low income employment for a couple hundred people. I think Canada has destroyed enough of North Central Washington already.

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