A pair of environmental groups filed on March 15 to reopen their lawsuit to halt the exploration of the mountains northwest of the tiny community of Kilgore in Clark County, Idaho’s least populated county. The Idaho Business Review published a detailed history of Kilgore litigation on Nov. 23, 2021.
The Idaho Conservation League and the Greater Yellowstone Coalition filed two motions through their law firm, Advocates for the West (AfW) of Boise: a motion to reopen their successful lawsuit opposing the exploration program plus a motion to add a “first supplemental complaint” to the suit.
The original lawsuit was filed on Nov. 13, 2018, objecting to an Aug. 20, 2018, decision notice and finding of no significant impact (DN-FNSI) issued by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) which approved an October 2017 program of operations (PoO) submitted by Otis Capital USA, the American arm of the Canadian firm Otis Gold. Otis has since been acquired by another Canadian mining firm, Excellon, in April 2020.
On May 4, 2020, Judge B. Lynn Winmill of the U.S. District Court for Idaho vacated the DN-FNSI on the grounds that there was no surface water or groundwater baseline knowledge, no groundwater monitoring for Dog Bone Ridge, and no way to determine if the drilling would impact the endangered Yellowstone cutthroat trout (YCT). Dog Bone Ridge is one of four areas targeted by the exploration Program. Winmill rejected all the other claims by the plaintiff.
Excellon established water quality monitoring for Dog Bone Ridge in 2020 and revised its PoO to address the remarks by Judge Winmill which were the ground to the vacate the 2018 DN-FNSI. In response, the USFS issued a new DN-FNSI signed on Nov. 12, giving Excellon the go ahead to resume its exploration of the area.
AfW filed the motion to reopen the case and the motion to add the first supplemental complaint in March. The supplemental complaint argues that the 2021 DN-FNSI did not address the grounds upon which Judge Winmill vacated the 2018 DN-FNSI. It argues further that the USFS did not consider the impact of new circumstances, namely the new logging program in the same area as Excellon’s mining claims. A complete record of the case is a docket of 60 items available through the U.S. Courts fee-based PACER information system (case 1:18-cv-00504-BLW).