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Input sought on mine operations near Death Valley

The operators of a gold mine located just outside Death Valley National Park’s western border have proposed modifications to their plan of operations, the park announced.

Details were provided in a news release issued last week.

Most of the proposed changes relate to mining activities on lands managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, but the plan also includes modifications to the mine’s piping of water from Sourdough Spring within the park.

Keystone Mine is an underground gold mine that has been intermittently worked since 1940. Bush Management Company acquired the mine in 2015, and the mining company desires to do exploratory drilling.

The BLM is the lead agency evaluating Bush Management Company’s proposed modifications to the plan of operations for Keystone Mine, which is located in Goler Wash on the western flank of the Panamint Mountains.

The proposed actions outside the park boundary include drilling up to 45 holes, which would be accessed from existing roads and drill pads.

Less than one acre of new land disturbance is expected.

Bush Management Company holds water rights to 470 gallons of water per day from Sourdough Spring in Death Valley National Park.

Bush Management Company proposes to modify existing piping to divert water from Sourdough Spring to a water tank outside the park.

In an effort to streamline compliance with environmental regulations, the National Park Service is a cooperating agency on the BLM’s environmental assessment for a modification to Keystone Mine plan of operations.

This means that the Park Service will not need to do a separate analysis of the proposed actions.

The Park Service’s decision will apply to activities proposed within the park at Sourdough Spring and a portion of the waterline.

The BLM’s decision will apply to the lower portion of the waterline and to activities at Keystone Mine, including the proposed drilling.

The EA has identified air quality, cultural resources, recreation, certain special status plants and wildlife as resources that could be significantly impacted by the proposed actions.

The document is available for public review and comments may be submitted online at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/KeystoneEA Comments may also be mailed to Death Valley National Park, P.O. Box 579, Death Valley, CA 92328. Comments must be sent by Oct. 12.

The public is reminded that the entire comment, including personal identifying information, may be made public at any time.

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