Judge Molloy blocks mine beneath Cabinet Mountains Wilderness

Is this a final victory in 23 year fight against the mine?

It probably isn’t because Judge Molloy both ruled for and against conservationists on their variety of claims, but it does send the Forest Service’s decision to approve the mine back to square one.

Molloy blocks mine beneath Cabinet Mountains Wilderness. By Michael Jamison. Missoulian

Info on the fight against the Rock Creek Mine.

3/30/2010. More on the ruling. Court Blocks Mine in Montana’s Cabinet Mountains Wilderness. ENS





  1. Virginia Avatar

    Good news! This company has its corporate office in Spokane, but is another Canadian company that wants to get the gold and silver mine and give the state of Montana the shaft.

  2. Kayla Avatar

    This is Great News! Now have been against this mining in
    the Cabinet Mountains for years.

  3. Cutthroat Avatar

    This is one of the important “linkage” pieces to possibly be used by grizzlies to make it to the Bitterroot. As it stands this is the strategy for recovery in the Bitterroot recovery zone (for bears to make it on their own through these linkage pieces). This would be a major roadblock. Lets hope it holds.

  4. JimT Avatar

    My wife did the original litigation on this about 25 years ago..Cabinet Mountain Grizzlies vs. Peterson. And it is STILL going on. I believe Todd True of Earth Justice did a lawsuit on this as well. There have been about 7 different mining companies along the way.

    As has been said before, mining is forever in oh so many bad ways.

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar


      Now I remember that she did. The time fighting this is amazing, but it looks like we might win.

    2. JimT Avatar

      She just shakes her head, Ralph, as she teaches at times at the law school, and sees her old cases, and then sees that the issue is still being litigated. That is one of the most depressing things about environmental litigation…it never seems to get resolved unless the area becomes a wilderness, park, monument or refuge.

  5. James Thill Avatar
    James Thill

    I lived in Troy when Asarco went into production. And I got to say if you wanted to see a bear the best place to go was on the mine road. This still holds true to this day. Talk to the forest service they have collared grizzley that dened up right on top of the Troy Mine. Even if the mine was bad for the bears (which its not) why would we let bears that leave the area because lack of food anyway be more important then the livilyhood of Montanans? Rock Creek mine would create around 300 jobs directly and as many as 2100 inderect jobs for at least 30 years. Montana despertley. needs

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar

      James Thill,

      I don’t know much about the Cabinet Mountains except in a general way — tall, scenic, wet, but not a really big area. I also know they support a big part of a disjunct grizzly bear population — “the Cabinet-Yaak population.” I also know the mine is considered to be a big threat to the Kootenai River which affects places I know better in Northern Idaho and British Columbia.

      I think there are some folks here who can say a lot more than me.

    2. James T Avatar
      James T

      Rock Creek Mine is not even close to the Kootenai River it is close to the Clark Fork River and certainly won’t be bad for it since the dicharge water has to exceed drinking water standards. The mine has also agreed to transplant several grizzley bears and hire two forest service game wardens to help protect the bears. Another thing the Cabinet-Yaak population is much lager then they will ever know. I saw 5 different grizz in three days within a one square mile around Bull River.

  6. Cutthroat Avatar

    I’m not sure this is even worth it since it appears our value systems are miles apart based on this comment, “why would we let bears that leave the area because lack of food anyway be more important then the livelihood of Montanans?” This is a fundamental question we all have to ask ourselves; at what point do we place the needs of at risk species ahead of our own wants? Apparently you’ve answered it for yourself. My answer would be quite different.

    Nonetheless, as I mentioned before in this thread it has been pointed out by Serveen and other conservation biologists that this ecosystem is an important linkage to the Bitterroot recovery zone and that the overall greater certainty of recovery of the species depends on establishing populations in a larger recovery area including zones such as the Bitterroot and Cascades. It would seem to me that this mine would disrupt this population immensely and any out migration from other populations through it to the Bitterroots. Now unless the mining company has worked it out with the USFWS/Feds to place the transplanted bears in the Bitterroot zone and/or the game wardens hired are going to coax the bears onto their backs and carry them through the mining operations area and on their way to the Bitterroot zone, I’m not sure how effective those two things are going to be at really protecting bears. Not to mention the simple loss in habitat which the bears require for their continued survival in this already relatively small wilderness.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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