Water for drilling on a major tributary

Water for drilling on a major tributary

The Oregon Water Resources Department refused to allow the Red Flat Nickel Corp. to use water for drilling on a major tributary of the Smith River on grounds that it “will impair or be detrimental to the public interest.”

It was a victory for the rough-hewn folk who cherish the pristine Smith, which is the last major river without a dam in the state and a life force for the people of Del Norte County.

Problem is, the water issue was only a tiny part of the process. The London mining company can appeal the decision and still has mining claims over thousands of acres of forest lands, including Baldface Creek, in Curry County, Ore., which flows into the Smith and helps maintain one of the most abundant natural salmon runs in California.

The company has applied to the U.S. Forest Service to begin exploratory drilling and could find other sources of water for test drilling, including hauling the water in trucks.

“I wish it could mean that it is totally done, but it’s not,” said Grant Werschkull, the executive director of the Smith River Alliance, in Crescent City. “There is still the serious threat of strip mining. This foreign company has claims in that part of the headwaters of the Smith and also in the adjacent headwaters of the Illinois.”

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