La Plata Canyon Wildcat Mine Recon Camp-Out Updates

Posted: August 12, 2011 by earthfirstdurango in direct action, environmental justice, mining, resistance, water
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Wildcat Mining Corporation is currently under a cease and desist order due to numerous violations, but has filed an application to expand their operations at the May Day and Idaho Mine Complex in La Plata Canyon from an area that was less than 10 acres to an enormous amount of land at 264.8 acres.

As local area residents opposing the mine wrote:

For those of you that are unfamiliar with Wildcat Mining, the residences up in La Plata Canyon have been subjected to their illegal activities for 4+ years now.  We have protested as bridges have been torn down and rebuilt, multiple roads created, 2 mills moved in, illegal portals dug (which have already collapsed) Little Deadwood Creek dammed up and tailings ponds placed directly above our La Plata River! Wildcat has faced multiple violations already.  Unfortunately, to this day there have been little or no repercussions.  Keep in mind that all of this has been done under the watchful eye of our Federal, State, and County officers.  There are multiple photos of Wildcat Mining’s destruction taken directly from the Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety records on our website at:

Join Earth First! Durango and other concerned community members for a weekend of camping, hiking, wild foraging, and mine site reconnaissance in La Plata Canyon, West of Durango, CO. We will be setting up camp today, Friday August 12th 2011, and staying at least two nights. We encourage you to visit the above website and learn all there is to know about Wildcat Mining’s history of violations and abuse in the area.

This event will be public, family-friendly, safe, and legal. We intent to conduct public oversight of the mine area and collect information that will assist us in further resisting the expansion and operation of the mine complex. The main mine site scouting/recon excursion will take place Saturday afternoon.

We intend to establish an encampment visible from the road that will be identifiable by the presence of flags, banners, and a bunch of earth warriors doing what they live to do and love to do. Join us! (More specific location info may be posted here soon, so stay tuned!) (UPDATE! We’ve established our base camp about five miles up into the canyon, at Lewis Creek campground (primitive, no facilities). Look for the “Defend the Land” banner. Due to certain circumstances (see below), we’ve established our current base camp further in than we had intended. Most vehicles should make it just fine (a small 2 wheel drive car did) but the road does get a little rough. Take your time and drive safely!

Upon entering the canyon today (Friday the 12th), about 2 miles in we came across numerous vehicles parked along-side the road and something obviously going down. There was lots of people and tents, complete with a large Grateful Dead stealie skull and sign reading “Shakedown Street.” Upon leaving later after dark to gain internet access for the purposes of posting this update, the presence of a lighted stage and electrified music proved this to indeed be a hippie music festival. Earth First! Durango would like to state emphatically that we have nothing to do with the presence of this event.

Driving into the canyon, however, we noticed something encouraging. Local residents with anti-mine signs already erected in their yards along-side the road have added “WELCOME EARTH FIRST!” and further up the road, attached onto and over the Forest Service’s signs are more signs reading “Welcome Earth First!” as well as “FUCK THE WILDCAT MINE!” These are messages of solidarity and support we are very happy to see. Thank you, whoever you are!)

For Saturday’s mine recon excursion, we’re asking folks to gather at the base camp around noon for lunch and a discussion, then we will carpool to within walking distance of the mine complex, and take a hike.

Please bring adequate camping gear (forecasts are calling for a 40% chance of rain & thunderstorms Saturday night and Sunday, so be prepared!) and enough food and water to be self-sufficient, though resources will be pooled and shared collectively as much as possible. Also bring recon gear like cameras, video cameras, etc., but please ask before taking people’s pictures and respect those who do not wish to be photographed. Local media may also join us to cover the excursion. We request they grant everyone the same courtesy.

May the Forest Bewitch You…

See you in the woods!

—Earth First! Durango & friends

Postscript I – It has recently come to our attention that Wildcat Mining has set up a website dedicated specifically to this operations. The site is rife with greenwashing industry rhetoric about “green mining.” We are here to say that, like “clean coal”, there is no such thing as “green mining”. Industry interests and local industry apologists will undoubtedly try to pitch jobs against the environment in this struggle, to which we say NO JOBS ON A DEAD PLANET! Pitting jobs and working people against a healthy environment is nothing new, but what working-class person would prefer to poison themselves and break their bodies in the mines when they could be paid equally well, if not better, to do habitat restoration work, trail system maintenance, etc.? We reject the jobs vs. the environment argument. It is nothing more than industry lies.

Postscript II – Everything is connected. As our fellow earth warriors risk their safety and freedom to defend the sacred San Franciso Peaks near Flagstaff, AZ, our encampment in La Plata Canyon is in the area of Mount Hesperus (known as Dibé Nitsaa – Big Mountain Sheep / Ceremonial Name: Bááshzhinii Dzil – Jet Mountain), the Northern of the Four Sacred Mountains of the Diné and various other local indigenous peoples. Protect Sacred Ground!

Postscript III – It’s the Full Moon as well as the Perseid Meteor Shower! There will also be abundant wild edibles to forage, including berries and mushrooms. Yum!


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