Cantwell, Murray Re-Introduce Bill to Protect Methow Valley Headwaters from Mining

340,000 acres of existing federal lands, including critical streams and creeks, would be off-limits to mining, protect rich environment

March 8, 2017

Washington, D.C. – Today, Senators Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) introduced S. 566, the Methow Headwaters Protection Act of 2017, to protect 340,000 acres of National Forest in the Methow Valley from potential development of a large-scale mine. The legislation would withdraw from mineral entry any deposits that could lead to an industrial-scale mine on the lands. Doing so would protect the headwaters of the Methow River. The Methow Valley supports a robust local tourism economy, water resources, farming, as well as ranching and rural communities.

Water is the lifeblood of the economy in the Methow Valley. With so many salmon, farmers and outdoor recreationists dependent on clean water, we can’t risk opening the area to copper mining,” Sen. Cantwell said. “I urge my colleagues to respect the local community’s wishes and protect this area.”
No matter what the political climate in Congress is, it’s critical that we keep fighting to preserve and protect the Methow Valley watershed for future generations,” Sen. Murray said. “I am proud to work hand-in-hand with the local community and Sen. Cantwell to make sure we are doing everything we can to protect the Methow Valley from destructive mining operations that could endanger everything from the recreational economy to salmon recovery efforts.”
Nearly one million tourists visit the Methow Valley each year to enjoy the sun, snow, streams, wildlife and rural communities, contributing more than $150 million annually to Okanogan County’s economy. The upper Methow is essential to salmon recovery, and more than $100 million has been invested in restoration and conservation efforts in the Methow Valley alone. Federal, state, local and private investments have gone to land protection, restoration and restoration projects across the Methow River watershed, supporting outdoor recreation, farmland preservation, and salmon and wildlife habitat enhancement and restoration activities.

The Upper Methow Valley is home to seven federally-protected fish and wildlife species, including the Northern spotted owl, grizzly bear, Canada lynx, spring Chinook salmon, steelhead and bull trout. Healthy and intact habitat is also home to bald and golden eagles, martens, mountain goats, mule and white-tailed deer, and wolves.