The Clearwater National Forest is a geographically diverse area in central Idaho that contains occurrences of gold, silver, antimony and copper. Since the 1860s, placer gold mining has occurred in rivers and streams across the Forest. Two of the more productive streams, Lolo Creek and Moose Creek (including two Moose Creek tributaries, Independence Creek and Deadwood Creek), have had sporadic mining activity over the years. Figure 1-1 depicts locations of the Lolo and Moose Creek drainages within the Clearwater National Forest. With the rise in prices in the 1970s, both streams experienced a renewed interest in prospecting for gold. It was also around this time that prospectors started using suction dredges to explore and mine instream gravels. While the numbers who actually mine varies from year to year, miners have established and maintained 17 placer mining claims on Lolo Creek and 26 claims on Moose Creek within the Clearwater National Forest. The claims were made under the Mining Law of 1872 and Forest Service regulations at 36 CFR Part 228. Lolo Creek and Moose Creek are most frequently mined by part-time, small-scale operations using suction dredges with nozzles from two to five inches in diameter and gasoline-powered pumps. Until the late 1990s, Lolo Creek and Moose Creek miners conducted their suction dredge operations under Forest Services Regulations (40 CFR Part 228) by notifying the Forest of their activities through a Notice of Intent (NOI). In 1997, steelhead trout were listed as a threatened species within the Snake River drainage under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In 1998, bull trout were also listed as a threatened species within the Snake River drainage.
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