Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Deformed trout linked to mining contaminants in eastern Idaho streams

Are two heads better than one? Ask J. R. Simplot Co.
Selenium contamination traced to phosphate mines in one of America's greatest backcountry travel and recreation locales -- Greater Yellowstone -- is leading to profound deformities among trout in southeastern Idaho's mountain streams.

The New York Times carried a story Feb. 23, 2012, that further exposed a study by J. R. Simplot Co. in support of easing standards for selenium contamination in Idaho streams. The study included photos of two-headed fish, a consequence of stream poisoning by Simplot's Smoky Mountain Mine.

The mountains of southeastern Idaho, for decades the focus of reckless phosphate-mining operations, are among the American West's premier destinations for hunting, fishing, camping, hiking and adventure motoring. Of all the regions I've explored in my backroad travels, the wildlands of southeastern Idaho rank high among those in need of responsible stewardship.

Yet as scenic as these mountains are, scientists are finding two-headed trout in the streams. It is an ominous sign that silenium from Simplot's mines is poisoning water sources in the publicly owned wildlands of Idaho.

"Phosphate mines in Greater Yellowstone have scarred the landscape and dumped poisonous selenium into area streams in substantial amounts, killing horses, livestock and wildlife, and ruining habitat of the struggling Yellowstone cutthroat trout," says the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. The group working to halt the contamination of our streams by phosphate mining.

Learn more here.

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