|A face mask to filter out wildfire smoke is a must as Wayne Phillips ascends a ridgeline north and connecting to Pioneer Ridge|
|Tintina's Jerry Zieg explains the location of the Black Butte Mine north of White Sulphur in the Smith River headwaters|
No, the smoke from the many fires has driven me inside and looking for alternatives to my climbing and hiking.
The air cleared enough Tuesday and I took full advantage and headed for the Little Belts south of Great Falls.
Lots of variety to this day: I tried a new route on the Pioneer Ridge, did a formal tour of Tintina's proposed Black Butte copper mine at the head of the Smith River, and soaked at the Spa in White Sulphur Springs.
The highlight of the day was the tour of the proposed copper mine, a very controversial proposal because of its location.
Click this link for Tintina's video explaining the mine:
Most of them involved in handling of tailings, the toxic waste rock left over after the copper is extracted.
|On the mine site's large storage area, with Black Butte in the background|
|Tintina's geologist Jerry Zieg taking questions from the public at a White Sulphur Springs mine presentation|
Here is a great, recent New York Times article that offers a balanced news report on the conflicts in the proposal:
Those 200 well-paying jobs that would come from this development would benefit the locals and the state.
However, after visiting the site and hearing the company's side, I'd need much more assurance before supporting the mine.
Our state's legacy is too clear and present: mining has left lasting scars. The adjacent, mine-polluted Belt Creek drainage should be lesson enough.
We can't afford even the possibility of a polluted Smith.
Proposing a mine in the Smith's headwaters is inappropriate. This is sacred ground. There must be some places where development can't occur. This is one of those places.
Click below for an excellent website opposing the mine:
| On the ridgeline heading toward the Pioneer Ridge Trail|
The Pioneer Ridge alternative route: