SEATTLE (AP) — The U.S. Forest Service has recommended that a large swatch of federal land in Washington’s Methow Valley be protected from future mining for 20 years.
The agency made its recommendation Friday after completing an environmental assessment. The report now goes to the Bureau of Land Management, which will also make a recommendation to the Interior Secretary for a final decision.
The proposal would withdraw 340,000 acres of forest lands in Okanogan County from new mining and mineral development for two decades while Congress considers legislation to permanently protect that area.
Washington’s two U.S. Senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, and state Rep. Dan Newhouse applauded the move in a statement that highlighted the value of the area to outdoor recreation, tourism and salmon recovery.