News Releases

Today, the Bureau of Land Management announced it will make 340,000 acres in Okanogan County temporarily off-limits to mining while it studies potential impact

Murray and Cantwell will continue to pursue permanent protection of the U.S. Forest Service land near Mazama

Valley in Okanogan County attracts more than 1 million visitors annually, boosting local economy

Map here 

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Today, Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) applauded the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for taking a critical step toward protecting the Methow Headwaters in North Central Washington by issuing a segregation notice to make 340,000 acres off-limits to mining for two years while it studies whether long-term protection is warranted. The senators have advocated for permanent protection of the land in order to safeguard the natural resources in the region, including water and salmon, as well as local recreation opportunities.

“This action is a huge step forward in our fight to preserve and protect our state’s incredible resources for future generations,” Senator Murray said. “I am especially grateful to the local community members who have led the charge to protect investments in salmon recovery, and defend tribal treaty rights and the region’s outdoor economy. In the coming months and years, I will continue to work with the community and my colleagues in Congress to make sure the Methow Valley is permanently protected from devastating mining operations.”

“The Methow Valley is too significant to allow mining exploration that threatens our clean water. I'm glad to see the department continuing work on the withdrawal application, and I will stay focused on ensuring the process moves quickly to protect this pristine region,” Senator Cantwell said. 

“We enjoy a solid economy in the Methow Valley and its resilience is built on the value of clean air and water," said Sam Lucy, owner of Bluebird Grain Farms. “The administration’s decision to move the withdrawal process forward is a vital step in keeping our valley special and the local economy strong.”

“Support for action to protect the Methow Headwaters, especially from the business community, is very strong,” said Julie Muyllaert, co-owner of Methow Cycle and Sport in Winthrop. “The businesses in the valley recognize that our success depends on maintaining the area's spectacular lands, recreational resources, clean water and fresh air. For these important reasons we are committed to achieving a mineral withdrawal for the Methow Headwaters."

“It is the town’s obligation to protect our water, the local economy and the well-being of our citizens,” said Twisp Mayor Soo Ing-Moody. “That’s why this summer the Twisp Town Council passed a resolution supporting the Methow Headwaters’ mineral withdrawal. Today’s announcement about the withdrawal is good news that reinforces our efforts on behalf of Twisp residents and future generations."

In May, Senator Murray introduced the Methow Headwaters Protection Act of 2016 with Senator Cantwell as an original cosponsor, in order to protect approximately 340,000 acres of the Methow River watershed in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest from potential development of a large-scale mine. The legislation, which was running concurrently with the administrative action announced today, would have withdrawn from mineral entry any deposits that could lead to an industrial-scale mine on the lands, and would protect the headwaters of the Methow River.