BOISE, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK)-U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill ruled Wednesday that the U.S. Forest Service failed to adequately consider the potential water quality impacts of an eastern Idaho mining permit.
Otis Gold plans to construct over 10 miles of temporary road, clear up to 140 drill pads, and drill up to 420 exploratory holes in a search for gold about 50 miles west of Yellowstone National Park in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The project covers 20 square miles adjacent the popular Steel Creek Campground.
Winmill ruled the Forest Service acted "arbitrarily and capriciously" in approving the company's permit.
The Idaho Conservation League (ICL) said the ruling puts the project on hold, for now.
"Idaho's water is more important than gold. It's the lifeblood of our state and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYC). Any mining or exploration needs to ensure that the resources we value in Idaho, water, wildlife and productive farmland, are protected. This ruling does that," stated Kathy Rinaldi, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition's Idaho Conservation Coordinator.
Advocates for the West executive director Laird Lucas said, "the court's ruling affirms that the Forest Service must fully assess impacts to water and sensitive species before approving mining exploration."
The lawsuit was filed in November 2018, challenging an August 2018 decision to grant a five-year permit to Otis Gold Corp. of Canada for low grade gold in a wildlife migration corridor and farming region in the Centennial Mountains near Kilgore, Idaho.