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Act Now: Copper Mine Set to Destroy Climbing and Trample Native American Rights

An urgent Action Alert from the Access Fund.

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Climbing advocates protest mining operations at Oak Flat, ancestral lands of Akimel O’odham (Upper Pima) and Hohokam. Photo courtesy of © Michael Schennum.

We need your help—right now, we are on the brink of the largest loss of climbing resources ever on America’s public lands. Oak Flat outside of Phoenix, Arizona is home to hundreds of sport climbing routes and thousands of bouldering problems, and it is also considered sacred to several Native American tribes. This exceptional area is squarely in the crosshairs of Resolution Copper, a foreign mining company who is set to take ownership of this public land through a shady land exchange deal.

Resolution Copper intends to extract a large copper ore deposit from underneath Oak Flat using a “block caving” technique that would completely consume the surface and all of its fantastic recreational resources, creating a crater over two miles wide and 1,000 feet deep.

If allowed to move forward, this mine will not only destroy the recreational value of Oak Flat, it will trample on the indigenous rights of the Native American tribes who regard Oak Flat (Chi’chil Bildagoteel) as a sacred area. The mine will also consume between 15,000 and 40,000 acre-feet of water per year in an area plagued by drought and lead to large-scale environmental pollution.

Access Fund has been fighting to save Oak Flat for over a decade, working alongside a broad coalition of tribes, conservation groups, recreation groups, and local citizens (learn more about the ongoing fight for Oak Flat here). Although we lost the land exchange battle in 2014, the US Forest Service (USFS) must comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and evaluate anticipated impacts of the mining operation on the environment and other values of the land before it is allowed to move forward. The USFS has just released a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the mining project, and it is both incomplete and based on faulty information. Now is the time to speak up and oppose this destructive mining operation.

Speak Up

The EIS for this mining project is currently open for public comment, and this will be the public’s last opportunity to voice concerns during this environmental review. Use Access Fund’s easy letter-writing tool below (or here) to draft a letter to the USFS and oppose this destructive mining operation. Talking points are available on the next page.