Approval Withdrawn for Placer Mine in Mojave Desert

Dragonfly Placer Mine Would Harm Wildlife, Irreplaceable Cultural Sites

RIDGECREST, Calif.—(ENEWSPF)–July 21, 2015.  Responding to environmental groups’ request for review, the California director of the Bureau of Land Management has overturned the agency’s approval for plans to develop the Dragonfly Placer gold mine in the Mojave Desert.

In reversing the Ridgecrest Field Office’s decision to allow the mine, Jim Kenna agreed with conservationists that impacts of the mine exploration proposal were not adequately addressed. The proposed mining would harm biologically and culturally important areas in the El Paso Mountains, including rare wildlife in Red Rock Canyon State Park and the Last Chance Canyon Area of Critical Environmental Concern, which was established to protect significant cultural sites. A new environmental review will now be done to analyze whether proposed mitigation can address the significant damage anticipated by the mine.

“We’re grateful that Director Kenna made the right decision to reverse this decision on the Dragonfly mining project,” said Ileene Anderson, a senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The wildlife and irreplaceable cultural sites in Red Rock Canyon State Park and the Last Chance Canyon are a completely inappropriate location for industrialized mining and we hope the proposal for the mine will be canceled altogether.”  

Red Rock Canyon and Last Chance Canyon in the El Paso Mountains are home to several rare and endangered species, including the state and federally protected threatened desert tortoise and the state-threatened Mohave ground squirrel. The proposed project also occurs in a designated “raptor conservation area” that was established to conserve longstanding nest sites for golden eagles and prairie falcons.  These canyon areas are also refugia for imperiled bat species including Townsend’s big-eared bats, a candidate for California Endangered Species Act protection. The area is crucial for American Indian cultural practices and documented as sacred geography on file with the Native American Heritage Commission.

“The state director correctly found that BLM’s approval of the project violated the public review requirements of federal law,” said Roger Flynn, attorney with the Western Mining Action Project and co-counsel representing the groups in the case. “If the company and BLM decide to pursue this project further, it is critical that BLM fully recognize the public’s right to participate at every step.”

The groups that filed a request for review of the project in February 2015 are the Center for Biological Diversity, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, the California/Nevada Regional Conservation Desert Committee of the Sierra Club and Desert Survivors.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 900,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Source: www.biologicaldiversity.org