Plan Would Protect Thunder Mt. District (ID)
BOISE, Idaho, 9/6/2005 – The Trust for Public Land, a national non-profit conservation organization, announced today that it has aquired 645 acres of land, as well as 272 unpatented mining claims, located in the historic Thunder Mountain Mining District in central Idaho. TPL’s goal is to ultimately convey the entire property and mining interests to the Payette National Forest.
“Nearly 1,000 acres of Thunder Mountain land and mining interests have already been acquired by the Forest Service,” U.S. Senator Larry Craig, R-Idaho, announced. This purchase was made with just over $900,000 in funds secured by Senator Craig and the Idaho delegation from federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), according to TPL.
“By adding these spectacular lands to the Payette National Forest, we are able to resolve long-standing concerns over the best future for this property, to guarantee access for sportsmen and other outdoor enthusiasts, and to protect this outstanding example of Idaho’s mining heritage,” said Craig. “I could not be more pleased with the public/private partnership that is working to achieve this remarkable accomplishment for all Idahoans.”
Eric Love, Director of TPL’s Rocky Mountain Program, said, “The protection of land was the highest priority of the Forest Service in Idaho and a long-time priority of our Rocky Mountain program. This is a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to protect the integrity of a remarkable landscape, and it could not have been accomplished without the leadership shown by Senator Craig. He has worked hard to ensure that future generations of Idahoans will be able to hunt and fish in this area.”
TPL acquired the land from its two previous owners, Thunder Mountain Gold, Inc. and Dewey Mining Company. “TPL is hugely appreciative of the patience shown by Thunder Mountain Gold and Dewey Mining over the past few years to conserve this historic property,” Love said. “This has been a cooperative effort, and we are pleased to announce that public access to this area has been secured for both recreation and interpretive activities.”
“Protection of these lands has been a priority for the Intermountain Region for years” said Acting Forest Service Regional Forester Mary Wagner. “We are grateful for the cooperation of The Trust for Public Land and the landowners in securing the Thunder Mountain Mining District for the enjoyment of the public. In addition, the support of Senator Craig has proven invaluable in allowing the Forest Service to acquire these lands.”
“My family has been mining in the Thunder Mountain District for over 90 years. We have been working with The Trust for Public Land and our partners for a number of years to reach an equitable agreement that would protect the area, preserve the mining history, guarantee future public use of the area, and provide future opportunities for our company’s shareholders. I believe that all of these goals have been accomplished under this agreement,” said Jim Collord, President of Thunder Mountain Gold.
Except for a narrow road leading into the property-which will remain ungated and open to the public-the land, located in Valley County in the central part of the state, is completely surrounded by the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness.
The 2.3 million acre Payette National Forest is one of the nation’s most diverse national forests, including lands ranging from deserts to forests and snow-capped peaks. The Thunder Mountain region was the site of gold mining in the late 1800s and the mining supported the nearby town of Roosevelt, which was nearly wiped out by a landslide in 1909. Mining is this region generally ceased in the 1980s and reclamation of the site began in the 1990s.
“TPL has acquired a total of approximately 6,000 acres of property interests-both patented and unpatented mining claims-which is all the land owned by the two companies,” Love said. “In the future, TPL will convey the remaining property to the Forest Service as federal appropriations become available.”
The Trust for Public Land, established in 1972, specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and law to protect land for people to enjoy as parks, greenways, community gardens, urban playgrounds, and wilderness. With funding from the Forest Legacy Program, the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, state and local open-space funds, and other public and private investments, TPL has helped to protect more than 1.4 million acres across the country. Working with communities in Idaho, TPL has conserved 30,737 acres to date. For more information, visit TPL on the web at www.tpl.org.