Green Mountain drill meeting set

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SANDPOINT — The U.S. Forest Service is hosting an informational meeting next month on a proposal to conduct exploratory drilling for silica in the Idaho Panhandle National Forests.

The meeting on the Green Mountain project is set for Thursday, Feb. 8. It starts at 6 p.m. at the Sandpoint Ranger District offices at 1602 Ontario St.

The public is encouraged to attend the meeting to ask questions and learn more about the proposal.

Pend Oreille Silica Inc. has requested to conduct exploratory drilling on National Forest System lands. The company has proposed one site for exploration from which two exploratory holes will be drilled to a maximum depth of 200 feet. The project area is located within the Sand Creek-Lake Pend Oreille watershed on the Sandpoint Ranger District. All lands disturbed during the activities in this proposal would be reclaimed, and disturbed areas would be reseeded.

The drilling would be conducted in Bonner County on Green Mountain, which overlooks the southeastern edge of the lake north of Lakeview.

The limited scope of the project is not large enough to trigger a full-blown analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act. However, the project would become the subject of an environmental impact statement or an environmental assessment if there is further drilling or development of the deposit, according to the Forest Service.

News of the exploratory drilling comes as the divide widens over a proposed silica smelter in Newport, Wash. The HiTest Sands smelter has drawn fierce opposition from residents on both sides of the state line.

For more information, please visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=52562 or contact Courtney Priddy at 208-765-7207.

Keith Kinnaird can be reached by email at kkinnaird@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow him on Twitter @KeithDailyBee.

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