The U.S. Forest Service gave authorization for a Canadian company to conduct exploratory drilling to create a hard — rock mine near Mount St. Helens. But it’s just a step in the process for the permits filed by Ascot USA, Inc.
U.S. Forest Service Cowlitz Valley District Ranger Gar Abbas signed off on the decision with specific conditions on Thursday.
It’s now up to the Bureau of Land Management to decide whether to issue the prospecting permits and approve the exploration plans. Before the plans go to BLM, the Forest Service has to give consent.
The company wants to drill to collect mineral samples like copper, gold, molybdenum and silver, according to a local lawmaker. The Forest Service found that no significant impact would come from the project and gave consent.
If approved, the sites would be adjacent to the south-facing slope of Goat Mountain, approximately 12 miles northeast of Mount St. Helens. It would not be on land within the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.
The sites would include 2-to-3 inch boreholes covering about .23 acres of land.
In his decision notice, Abbas writes that the Goat Mountain area historically has been dominated by logging, recreation, mineral prospecting, and limited mineral development.
Multiple options for the sites were discussed over the last year, and the Forest Service said they picked the one that’s not supposed to impact water or wildlife.
But some are still expressing their displeasure for the consent, including ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.).
“Opening the door to drilling at the edge of Mount St. Helens is a short-sighted decision that undervalues the important benefits these public spaces offer both to our booming recreation economy and to families who come from near and far to enjoy their beauty. This mountain should be managed for current and future generations to enjoy, and I hope the Trump administration will cease their efforts to jeopardize that by allowing it to be explored for drilling,” she wrote.
Last year Cantwell asked the Forest Service to deny the drilling permits. She believes mineral exploration and development would likely interfere with the recreation and conservation purposes.
Thirty-eight years ago, 57 people lost their lives amid raining ash throughout Washington state in the wake of the Mount St. Helens explosion.
Journalists and residents alike captured moments of the volcano’s notorious eruption in 1980; thousands of people to this day still watch their surreal video and chilling photos of the lateral blast that took out the north side of the mountain.