Idaho BHA Comments on proposed mineral sampling in the Mallard-Larkins Pioneer Area

To: Rick Brazell
Forest Supervisor
Clearwater National Forest
12730 Hwy 12
Orofino, ID 83544

Dear Mr. Brazell,

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is a national group of outdoors-people who cherish the opportunity to pursue America’s outdoor traditions in pristine and natural surroundings. We have a strong chapter in Idaho. As you know, the US Forest Service Northern Region offers world-class opportunities for backcountry hunting and fishing. Indeed, conserving these places and opportunities are among the reasons why Theodore Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot created the agency and our forest reserves more than a century ago.

One of these special places is the Mallard-Larkins Pioneer Area and surrounding inventoried roadless area in the Clearwater National Forest. Our members have used this area for hunting and fishing for decades – even generations. The Mallard-Larkin is one of those rare, accessible backcountry areas that are open even to youngsters, getting their first taste of the wilderness.

We are alarmed to hear of the Dahlen mineral-sampling proposal, a request from a private individual who wants to use a helicopter to ferry in heavy equipment to prospect for gold in Skull Creek, in the North Fork of the Clearwater Drainage.

Please promptly and clearly deny this request. It is simply unreasonable given the special nature of this landscape and the traditional way it has been managed. If Skull Creek is not safe from this kind of heavy industry, then none of the Mallard-Larkins or backcountry of the Clearwater is safe.

The Mallard-Larkins is important habitat and backcountry hunting grounds for big game including elk, mountain goat, black bear and mule deer. It is the source of clean water for some of the best remaining fisheries for native species such as westslope cutthroat trout, a species very sensitive to disturbance. Industrialized mining and prospecting in this special area is a direct threat to the access and opportunity of Idaho hunters and anglers to enjoy their birthright.

Theodore Roosevelt created our national forests intending to serve “the greatest good for the greatest number over the long term.” Allowing a single individual special license to use heavy equipment to dig up the land here does exactly the opposite — it serves only the narrowest interest and only for a short time.

Thank you for denying the Dahlen mineral-sampling proposal,
Idaho Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers

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