On September 15, 2010, Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon introduced the “Mono County Economic Development Act of 2010,” H.R., 6129. The bill proposes to release the Bodie Wilderness Study Area (WSA) in the Bodie Hills from protections it is currently afforded by Congress. (Go here for an explanation of WSAs) Release of the WSA will facilitate gold mining by Cougar Gold LLC; Cougar Gold is a subsidiary of Electrum, a large mining corporation with operations worldwide. If enacted, the legislation would open up the Bodie WSA to damaging mining and related development. The outstanding natural values of this WSA would be irreversibly harmed by development of a gold mine. Important tributaries to the Walker River watershed could be poisoned by toxic leakage, wildlife habitat for species including the Greater Sage Grouse and pronghorn antelope would be adversely affected, important cultural resources could be damaged, recreational opportunities would be compromised, and opportunities to secure permanent protection of this important ecosystem would be lost.
Mining in the Bodie Hills
The Bodie Hills have seen mining exploration since gold was first discovered in California in 1849. Bodie State Historic Park, a popular tourist destination located in the center of the Bodie Hills, is one of the best examples of a boom-bust mining economy in the country. Electrum’s current interest is at the Paramount mine site, an area of past mineral exploration activity within the Bodie WSA. There are 432 active claims located throughout the WSA, with the vast majority of them owned by Electrum. For more information on Electrum’s (Cougar Gold’s) specific interest in the Paramount area, see http://www.paramountinfo.net/faq.html.
Electrum (parent of local mining subsidiary Cougar Gold) is a large, privately-owned mining company with interests in gold mining throughout the world. Electrum is owned by Tigris Financial. The Chairman and founder of these companies, Thomas Kaplan is a billionaire venture capitalist. For an interesting article on Electrum and Mr. Kaplan, go to http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38883209/
What You Can Do
Please join us in our efforts to prevent mining from forever scarring the unique and beautiful landscape of the Bodie Hills. Write Congressman McKeon and tell him you oppose the legislation. Please also write your Senators today and ask them to oppose a Senate companion bill to H.R. 6129, if introduced, or any efforts to pass the legislation during a “lame duck” session of Congress after the November elections.