Department of Ecology News Release - September 8, 2014

Mine funds environmental projects in Okanogan County

YAKIMA –Operators of the Buckhorn Gold Mine near Chesaw will soon spend $180,000 on projects benefiting the environment across Okanogan County. The work is a result of a penalty settlement between the company and the Washington Department of Ecology.

In July 2012, Ecology fined Crown Resources $395,000 for water quality permit violations at the Buckhorn Gold Mine. In June 2013, the two agreed that $80,000 would be paid immediately and $180,000 would go toward funding environmental remediation projects in the vicinity of the mine to settle the penalty.

The first project will apply $100,000 toward installing a network of 17 rain gauges in the burned area of the Carlton Complex wildfire. The gauges will automatically record and transmit precipitation data to provide early warning to residents of flash floods. It will also help gather information about the fire’s effects and recovery. Partners in this effort include Ecology, the Okanogan Conservation District, National Weather Service and Governor’s Office.

“We are extremely pleased to be able to help support the people and the environment of the Okanogan County region in the wake of the devastating Carlton Complex fires and recent flooding. It’s good to see that these dollars can be put to use on the ground to make a positive difference in the region,” states Mark Ioli, vice president of Crown Resources.

Unrelated to the fire, funding will also go toward relocating a frequently flooded road at Lost Lake in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. This $25,000 project will benefit water quality and road users. The remaining $55,000 is slated to support other wetland and habitat enhancement and stream restoration projects in the area surrounding Buckhorn Mountain,   providing a variety of benefits to fish and wildlife.

Ecology often recommends the funding of supplemental environmental projects as part of a settlement or in lieu of a portion of a penalty issued for environmental violations. This allows local communities and environments to benefit instead of payments just going into the state’s general fund.

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Contact:

Joye Redfield-Wilder, Ecology communications, 509-575-2610; @ecyCentral

Deana Zakar, Crown Resources, 509-775-3157 ext. 125