The Winthrop Chamber of Commerce is supporting protection of more than 340,000 acres of U. S. Forest Service land in the upper Methow Valley from future mining.

The chamber has passed a resolution of support for a 20-year mineral withdrawal, which would prevent mining activities on federal land in the upper valley during that period. The resolution also calls on Congressional leaders to work on permanent protection for the area.

The Bureau of Land Management has issued a “notice of segregation” that protects the land from any new mining activities for a two-year period while federal agencies evaluate whether it should be protected for up to 20 years.

The segregation notice was issued on Dec. 30, initiating a 90-day public comment period that ends March 30.

“The Methow Valley is one of the state’s most unique and special places,” the Chamber of Commerce resolution said.

“Its rural character, clean, cold waters and natural beauty support a resilient economy based on outdoor recreation, scenic tourism, agriculture, and fish and wildlife.

“The Methow Headwaters provide the lifeblood that support the valley, its economy and the area’s residents and visitors,” the resolution said.

A proposal to drill exploratory holes to assess the amount of copper near Flagg Mountain has raised fears of large-scale copper mining near Mazama. The Methow Ranger District is studying the proposal.

“Large-scale mine development in the Methow Headwaters is in direct conflict with the qualities that underpin the valley’s successful and sustainable economy.  It also undermines many years of community efforts to maintain the area’s unique rural character,” the chamber resolution stated.

The Winthrop Chamber has about 100 members who represent the majority of businesses in the area.