The tribal government of Klukwan filed a lawsuit Monday against the Bureau of Land Management, accusing it of failing to protect culturally-important salmon habitat and world’s largest bald eagle congregation from mining on the Chilkat River drainage.
Filed in U.S. District Court on Monday, the suit alleges that BLM neglected its duties when permitting expansions of mineral exploration in the area in the last year and a half.
Permitting mineral exploration would eventually lead to the creation of a hard rock mine, the suit argues, which has been shown to negatively affect water bodies downstream. Mining companies conduct mineral exploration in hopes of documenting the existence of valuable ore bodies. Smaller exploration companies often then sell their claims to larger extraction companies after they’ve proved valuable.
BLM is required to consider the environmental impact of a future mine when permitting exploration, Klukwan argues, not just the impact of exploration itself.
“Over the past several years our Tribe has been having government-to-government discussions with BLM regarding the permitting process for mining in the Chilkat Watershed,” said Kimberley Strong, Tribal President of the Chilkat Indian Village of Klukwan.
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