Defending the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness from Industrialized Mining

The Cabinet Mountains Wilderness boasts some of the purest waters in the lower-48 United States and harbors important populations of threatened bull trout and grizzly bears, which are protected by the Endangered Species Act. Every bear counts in the small Cabinet Mountains population.

Regional Office / Program

Case Overview

The Cabinet Mountains of northwest Montana offer one of the last remaining strongholds for bull trout and grizzly bears—species that are threatened with extinction across their range.

The Rock Creek and Montanore mine projects proposed by Coeur D’Alene-based Hecla Mining Company threaten to inflict serious, irreversible impacts on one of the nation’s original wilderness areas and the invaluable water and wildlife resources found there.

The Cabinet Mountains Wilderness, where the mines would be located, boasts some of the purest waters in the lower-48 United States and harbors important populations of threatened bull trout and grizzly bears, which are protected by the Endangered Species Act.

If constructed, the Rock Creek and Montanore mines are predicted to drain water from wilderness streams, reducing flows for more than 1,000 years; pollute the Clark Fork River and tributaries that provide critical habitat for bull trout; and threaten higher levels of human-caused mortality for the precariously small population of grizzly bears that is struggling to maintain a foothold in the Cabinet Mountains.

The Montanore mine alone would generate up to 120 million tons of mining waste, which would be stored in perpetuity on the doorstep of the wilderness.

Take Action: Your Voice Can Make a Difference

If you live in Montana — or have friends who do — please call Gov. Steve Bullock’s office and the state Department of Environmental Quality at (406) 412-6076 and share this message: Montana residents support the enforcement of Montana’s “bad actor” mining law against Hecla Mining CEO Phillips Baker.

Montana is stepping up to hold the leadership of serial polluter Pegasus Gold accountable for contaminating sacred tribal lands, clean water, and irreplaceable trout habitat and forcing the public to pay for their messes. Until now, the state has never used this important legal tool against powerful mining companies.

Please add your voice today to let Gov. Bullock and the Dept. of Environmental Quality know they’ve made the right choice for Montana.

  • Read about Montanans’ fight to enforce the state’s “bad actor” mining law.
  • If you call — thank you! — please let us know how your call went.
Montana’s cold, clean streams contain some of the last prime habitat in the United States for threatened bull trout, whose historic range has shrunk by half.
Montana’s cold, clean streams contain some of the last prime habitat in the United States for threatened bull trout, whose historic range has shrunk by half. (Joel Sartore / National Geographic Stock / U.S. FWS)

Case Updates

November 10, 2021 Press Release

Tribes, Conservation Groups File Legal Action To Compel Montana DEQ to Enforce “Bad Actor” Law Against Hecla Mining Executive

Deliver petition to Gov. Gianforte: Protect Montana from corporate polluter

August 4, 2021 In the News: Missoula Current

Tribal, conservation groups plan lawsuit against DEQ over Hecla mining dismissal

Shiloh Hernandez, Attorney, Northern Rockies Office: “This pollution is impacting the Fort-Belknap tribe, and it’s already polluting important historical and ceremonial sights for them. That’s a big slap in the face from both Baker for not cleaning up his mess and now the state for letting Baker get away with it.”

August 2, 2021 Document

Montanore Minerals Corp., et al., v. DEQ, et al., No. ADV 2018-363 – Intervenors' Response to DEQ's Motion to Dismiss

Montanore Minerals Corp., et al., v. DEQ, et al., No. ADV 2018-363 - Intervenors' Response to DEQ's Motion to Dismiss