Denali Seeks Public Comments on an Environmental Assessment of a Mining Plan of Operations on Eldorado Creek in the Kantishna Hills

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Date: May 5, 2016
Contact: Steve Carwile, (907) 644-3612
Contact: Kathleen Kelly, (907) 683-9504

The National Park Service (NPS) is considering approval of a Mining Plan of Operations (MPO) which was submitted by Kris DeVault for the purpose of accessing and conducting a suction dredge placer gold mining operation on the 118 acres of the Liberty #9 and Liberty #13 through #20 (Liberty) unpatented mining claims located in the Kantishna Hills area within the 1980 park additions of Denali National Park and Preserve.

The Environmental Assessment two alternatives: a No-Action alternative where the MPO would not be approved, and Alternative 2, approval of the MPO for ten years as submitted, with NPS stipulations to protect natural and cultural resources. The MPO includes the use of a 6 inch and 8 inch hose to suction gravels and gold from the bedrock of the streambed. Cobbles and boulders above the bedrock would be moved a few feet downstream to create a small pool upstream where the suction dredging would take place. The material suctioned off the stream bottom would be passed through the hose to a sluice box floating in the pool, where the gold would be separated out from the sand and gravel. The work would move slowly upstream, filling in (reclaiming) the pool behind the completed work, and work could progress on anywhere from 100 to 800 linear feet of streambed per season.

The claims cover about 1.5 miles of streambed and the claims start about 1.5 miles upstream of Kantishna. The MPO also includes making the historic Eldorado Tractor Road usable for vehicle traffic. A flood in June 2014 damaged the road, and an excavator is proposed to be used to clear boulders, smooth the driving surface, and re-establish ramps at the 20 crossings of Eldorado Creek. DeVault would use the historic Comstock Cabin on the claims for housing and would erect a couple of temporary tents for storage of equipment.

The stipulations include seasonal starting and stopping dates that would protect the migration of Arctic grayling in Eldorado Creek to and from a reach of Eldorado Creek upstream of the claims that is highly productive for macroinvertebrates.

The Liberty claims on Eldorado Creek were not mined by heavy equipment and little evidence of early 20th century hand work is detectable. They are the last unpatented mining claims in Denali National Park and Preserve.

The public comment period ends at midnight (ADT) June 2, 2016.

How to make your voice heard:

  • Comment online at the NPS Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) website (preferred methd) 
  • Comment via email 
  • Hand deliver or mail written comments to:
    Superintendent, Denali National Park and Preserve, P.O. Box 9, Denali Park, AK 99755 
For more information contact Steve Carwile, Compliance Officer, at 907-644-3612, or email Steve.

Last updated: May 5, 2016

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