By Julie Muyllaert
The Methow Valley is a wonderfully diverse place. Ranches and farms create the valley’s working landscape, a large trail system and surrounding wilderness areas contribute recreational opportunities and economic vitality, and public lands support critical fish and wildlife populations.
Unfortunately these precious resources are at risk because a Canadian-based company is seeking to explore for copper on Flagg Mountain near the town of Mazama. Such exploration is the first step toward the potential development of an industrial-scale copper mine in the Methow headwaters.
For that reason, and because I care deeply about this incredible place and its inhabitants, I have joined with more than 120 other area businesses as part of the Methow Headwaters Campaign. Our goal is to make the headwaters off-limits to the possibility of large-scale mine development, now and in the future.
The business community is engaged because antiquated laws that govern mining offer little chance to halt even as misplaced a project as the current Flagg Mountain proposal. And because exploration for copper deposits has occurred in the past throughout the headwaters, we are seeking to address this problem for the long-term. That’s why we are calling on Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell and U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell to start a process that “withdraws” these lands from the continued threat of large-scale mining.
Businesses at risk
The health and future of my business, Methow Cycle & Sport, is closely tied to the integrity of our natural environment and the diverse character of our valley. The development of a large-scale copper mine in the heart of the Methow risks the characteristics of this place that we value and also threatens the core of our economic success. Mining activities that include ongoing heavy truck traffic, drilling and blasting, operating facilities, diminishment of views, impacts to water resources and the disturbance of wildlife and its habitat would seriously diminish the integrity of what has been created here. To allow such activities would be a serious loss for everyone who enjoys the valley, and especially for those who rely on the lands, water and character of the Methow for their livelihoods.
The strength of the Methow Headwaters Campaign is that people from all walks of life, backgrounds and business sectors are aligned in making the headwaters off-limits to large-scale mining. They appreciate that the potential damage of such activities to our vital water resources, fish and wildlife habitat and clean air will affect everyone — ranchers, farmers, builders, restaurant and lodging operators and outdoor sport shop owners like me.
We are fortunate to have had community leaders whose vision for this valley over the past decades has nurtured the development of the area and its economy, while protecting its natural beauty and working landscapes. The Methow Headwaters Campaign gives us the opportunity to continue this important vision into the future.
The first step is join the Methow Headwaters Campaign and help us convince Secretary Jewell and Chief Tidwell that the Methow is worth protecting from the devastating impacts of large-scale industrial mining. To help us, visit www.methowheadwaters.org to get involved with the campaign.
Julie Muyllaert is co-owner of Methow Cycle & Sport in Winthrop.