November 9, 2016–Yet another event in an already unprecedented year of progress towards a permanently mine-free Mt. Emmons happened Tuesday, November 8, 2016 with the passing of Ballot Issue 2A. After 39 years of tireless effort to permanently protect Mt. Emmons, endearingly called “Red Lady” by locals, the passing of Ballot Issue 2A moves the Town of Crested Butte closer than ever to a permanently mine-free Red Lady.
Ballot Issue 2A authorizes the Town to utilize $2 million from the Town’s Land Transfer Excise Tax Fund to pay the Mt. Emmons Mining Company (“MEMC”, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Freeport-McMoRan, Inc., collectively “MEMC/Freeport”) to permanently dispose of its mining and millsite claims on Mt. Emmons and in the nearby watersheds. The approved and passed ballot language reads: “for the Purposes of Preventing Mining Activity on Mt. Emmons.”
The passing of Ballot Issue 2A helps pave the way for a community and company supported congressional withdrawal of lands on Mt. Emmons and in nearby watersheds where mining and millsite claims are located. A congressional withdrawal is necessary to remove these lands from the General Mining Law of 1872. Once a congressional withdrawal is in effect, any existing claims can be disposed of without any threat or fear of re-staking and re-claiming under this archaic law. The funds will only be transferred to MEMC/Freeport after a withdrawal is passed by Congress, signed by the President, and MEMC/Freeport has abandoned its claims.
Ballot Issue 2A is a never-before-seen opportunity the Crested Butte community has hoped for over decades and has taken advantage of. In doing so, the community has helped us move closer than ever to the congressional withdrawal needed to keep our watershed mine-free. High Country Conservation Advocates looks forward to working with the Town, Gunnison County, MEMC/Freeport, and the Crested Butte community towards achieving this long sought-after goal.