Spearfish Canyon is a natural wonder enjoyed by recreation enthusiasts of all types. It is an important source of tourist income. Now, a company called Solitario Zinc has submitted a proposal to the Forest Service to begin exploring for gold on huge swaths of mining claims in the northwest hills and along the western rim of Spearfish Canyon.

The Black Hills have a history of gold mining with devastating consequences. Gilt Edge Mine, outside Deadwood, is a superfund site. Current threats posed by mining include toxic degradation of water, air, land and human health. Companies are required to restore topsoil and vegetation after drilling activities, but there is no way to restore our water resources. Gold exploration and mining uses and depletes countless amounts of water. Mining creates acid mine drainage, little of which can be contained. It lowers our quality of life, home and land values, animal habitat, fishing, etc. This violates the rights of Native American citizens to continue their spiritual practices.

Mining does not represent a significant portion of Lawrence County’s revenue. All mining professions taken together only provide 3% of county income. An increase in this percentage will only rob everything we enjoy here.

The FS has the power to impose stringent environmental standards on these companies. Please email or call the Northern Hills Ranger District and ask them to require an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) from Solitario Zinc at [email protected] (605) 642-4622.

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