the film
Commentaries and editorials

Salmon Need All Of Us

by Laurel Sayer
Capital Press, April 28, 2019

Adult counts of wild Chinook and Steelhead returning to Idaho (source: Idaho Fish & Game) Salmon have captivated our collective imaginations for generations and earned the reverence of many as they travel thousands of miles to the ocean and return to spawn. They nourish people, creatures, birds and ecosystems. They are central to the culture of many Native American Tribes and economies. They are a natural barometer for the health of our rivers and streams. And they're protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Simply put, protecting salmon is critical to protecting our land, wildlife, watersheds and economies. Idahoans want our salmon back, but it will take all of us working together -- even mining companies -- to succeed.

While many people are working to find solutions for salmon restoration along the lower reaches of the rivers, we can't lose sight of the headwaters. We need to make sure salmon have healthy, accessible spawning grounds to return to each year. Midas Gold has a bold vision to help salmon return home.

During the 1930s, miners working in the historic Stibnite Mining District cut off access to pristine fish habitat in the upper stretches of the East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon River by digging a tunnel around, and opening up, the Yellow Pine Pit. Today, the river flows into this abandoned mine pit and salmon cannot swim past. Fish also must cope with hundreds of tons of sediment entering the river each year and poor water quality because of metals from historic mine tailings that were never properly stored.

To be clear, mining created the problems facing salmon in the headwaters at our site. Now, it is time for mining to be part of the solution.

The issues in the East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon River will not go away by themselves and require large scale solutions. Our plan to clean up the headwaters goes well beyond what is required by current regulations. Redevelopment of the site through responsible mining will provide us with the financial resources to complete this extra work and help protect salmon.

We will reconnect native salmon to their spawning grounds before operations even begin by creating a temporary passage around the pit and rebuild the natural channel of the river starting in year seven of operations. Fish will once again be able to swim upstream and have access to miles of newly restored habitat. We will repair the damage from failed infrastructure to permanently keep sediment out of the river.

And we will remove, reprocess and properly store the tailings that currently threaten the river and groundwater in order to improve water quality and fish habitat.

Salmon need our help now. We are ready to act. As we continue to work on the Stibnite Gold Project, you have our commitment to be part of the solution and do all we can to provide a healthy sustainable habitat for salmon to return after their long and heroic journeys.

Laurel Sayer is president and CEO of Midas Gold Idaho. Previously, she led the Idaho Coalition of Land Trusts and served on Rep. Mike Simpson's staff for 18 years.
Salmon Need All Of Us
Capital Press, April 28, 2019

See what you can learn

learn more on topics covered in the film
see the video
read the script
learn the songs
discussion forum
salmon animation