Folks, I don’t think I have to tell you that these last few weeks have been confusing and chaotic. I first want to thank everyone for being patient with our deluge of communications lately. We strive to send monthly newsletters with relevant updates, but lately the updates have been hard and fast in coming.
We went from bracing for immediate drilling on the doorstep of Ash Meadows, to hastily filing a legal complaint to stop the drilling, to seeing comments made in the press that drilling would be halted and an environmental review process required, to receiving no official statement confirming those decisions, to hastily filing a motion for a preliminary injunction and preparing for oral arguments at the end of July, to now.
And now, I’m very glad to share, we have received documents from the Department of Interior officially rescinding approval of Rover Metals’ lithium exploration project, requiring a plan of development and an environmental review process in light of potential undue damage and degradation and impacts to threatened and endangered species. This status change has been further covered in this story by the Las Vegas Review Journal.
The documents were signed at 7:45pm on Wednesday, July 19th, 2023, and we received the notice just this morning. We can all breathe a collective sigh of relief knowing that at least for now, Ash Meadows is safe.
We are grateful to the Bureau of Land Management for making the right decision in this case, and for validating the concerns we have shared about this project from when we first encountered it.
Though this decision surely marks a victory for our organization, our coalition, and for the communities of the Amargosa Basin that mobilized against this project, the campaign is not yet over. Should the decision by the BLM be protested by the mining company, or should they submit a Plan of Operations and commence environmental review, we will continue to need robust support and engagement from you, our members. We will stay vigilant, and continue to provide updates on this situation as it develops.
I and others that have been heavily involved and invested in this campaign are still reeling from the series of events that have transpired, and from the decision that was ultimately reached. But I want to speak to three things that are crystal clear from where I’m sitting.
First: In a beautiful way, I believe Ash Meadows has done once again what it has always done, and saved itself. By virtue of its wildness, its beauty, and its peculiarity, Ash Meadows saves itself through its effects on each of us that encounter it. I can tell you personally that those minutes and hours spent at the edge of Fairbanks Springs, staring into a pool of ancient water with relict species of fish, made a deep and unshakeable impression on me. Places like Ash Meadows speak their value loudly without ever saying anything. Our job as advocates is to put that value into human language, to speak from the heart. It’s challenging work, but there’s an endless supply of inspiration to be found in visiting these places we long to protect.
Second: Every person who has donated to support our campaign and our organization, who took the time to join our petition signed by nearly 1,500 individuals, who joined over 20 nonprofit partners supporting our letter to leadership, who attended public meetings, who liked and reshared our action alerts and breaking news stories, who has traveled hundreds of miles across the country to see and experience this remarkable desert oasis: this is your victory. Together, we have proven, at least for the time being, that places like Ash Meadows are simply too important, too special, and too beloved to be put at risk.
Lastly, I firmly believe we have some of the most earnest, committed, and passionate people in the West serving on our Amargosa Conservancy board of directors, and supporting our organization as members and volunteers. Your dedication and encouragement has meant more than I can describe these last few months, and I’m very proud of what we have accomplished together.