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Defending the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness from Industrialized Mining

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

What’s at Stake

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.

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.

Location of Cabinet Mountains Wilderness.
The proposed Montanore Mine is located in northwestern Montana.

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.

Case ID

2911, 3057, 3510

Case Updates

July 24, 2019 | Legal Document

Order on Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment re: Montanore Project

The Montana Pollutant Discharge Elimination System's renewed water pollution discharge permit issued for the Montanore Minerals Corporation's copper and silver mine proposed to be developed in the Cabinet Mountains in northwest Montana is vacated and the matter remanded to Department of Environmental Quality for further action consistent with this decision.

July 26, 2018 | Video

Defending the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness

The Cabinet Mountain Wilderness — a 35-mile wide stretch of remote and pristine land that provides refuge to a precariously small population of threatened grizzly bears and supplies some of the purest water in the nation — is facing permanent harm by two proposed mines.

July 19, 2018 | In the News: Montana Public Radio

USFWS Proposes Endangered Species Act Changes

Tim Preso, Managing Attorney, Earthjustice: "For virtually each one of these, it's a proposal to narrow the Act's applications, to reduce its protections, to make it harder to protect habitat, to make it harder to list species. And the cumulative effects of all of these little changes is going to be a significant erosion of our bedrock law for protecting imperiled wildlife."