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Northwest Land Managers Roll Out Mining Limits As Obama Term Nears Conclusion


A male great western sage grouse.

A male great western sage grouse.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

As the clock ticks down on the Obama administration, federal land managers released a flurry of rules Friday focused on mining in the Northwest.

The White House could still create a national monument in southeastern Oregon.

But in the meantime, the Bureau of Land Management finalized several plans months or years in the making.  

The most sweeping is a draft plan to withdraw 10 million acres from mineral development in six states from Oregon to Wyoming. It would conserve habitat for the greater sage grouse. Alternatives proposals could shift protections to keep mining in areas with the greatest potential.  

In Washington on Friday, federal officials blocked new mineral leases on 340-thousand acres of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest for two years. Land managers are also proposing a 20-year mining suspension, following the two-year delay. Washington’s senators say they want to make that suspension permanent.  

And federal land managers confirmed Friday they are preparing to make another announcement soon related to mining in Oregon.  

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