Mining Company Nixes California Gold Exploration That Threatened Rare Daisy – Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, March 17, 2022
Ileene Anderson, (323) 490-0223, ianderson@biologicaldiversity.org
Mining Company Nixes California Gold Exploration That Threatened Rare Daisy
LOS ANGELES— A Canadian mining company has announced it’s suspending a proposal to expand gold mining exploration and road building on California’s Conglomerate Mesa after the U.S. Bureau of Land Management required an environmental impact statement for the project.
K2 Gold’s planned mining project in a rugged, roadless area near Death Valley National Park threatened the rare Inyo rock daisy. In February the Center and other groups formally petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the wildflower under the federal Endangered Species Act.
“This was an ill-conceived project in a starkly beautiful place, and K2 Gold made the right decision to abandon it,” said Ileene Anderson, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Now that the immediate threat of exploratory drilling is behind us, our goal is to get the daisy and its remote habitat protected for good.”
The Center, the California Native Plant Society and botanist Maria Jesus have also petitioned the California Fish and Game Commission to protect the daisy under the California Endangered Species Act. A new-to-science plant species, the Inyo thread plant, is also located in the area where K2 Gold planned to build roads.
Nearly every population of the rock daisy and the largest population of newly described Inyo thread plant are found on mining claims in Conglomerate Mesa in Inyo County. Earlier this month the BLM’s local field office notified the mining company that a comprehensive environmental impact statement would be required before any additional exploratory mining work could be done.
The Inyo rock daisy is a rare wildflower found only at the highest elevations of the southern Inyo Mountains, between the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains and Death Valley National Park. The western Joshua tree, also found on Conglomerate Mesa, is being considered for full protection under California’s Endangered Species Act.
Conglomerate Mesa is part of the National Conservation Lands system as well as an area of critical environmental concern, but these public lands remain open for commercial extraction under the antiquated 1872 Mining Law. The area is also home to numerous other sensitive plant species, Joshua tree woodlands and other natural resources.
“The BLM made the right move to require a full environmental review before road building or exploratory drilling could begin,” said Anderson. “That decision may have saved a delicate little flower from extinction. This special place deserves the highest level of protection. All projects proposed on national conservation lands or in areas of critical environmental concern should be required to have this kind of review.”
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
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