NDA, QDMA Join Dozens of Partners in Sending Critical Minerals Report to Congress

August 25, 2020 | by National Deer Alliance

The National Deer Alliance (NDA) and the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) have joined dozens of conservations partners in delivering a critical minerals report to Congress. The report, Critical Minerals Report: A Conservation Perspective, offers collaborative solutions to chart a responsible path forward that includes hunters and anglers as stakeholders in the “Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals,” as outlined by the a United States Department of Commerce report.

Critical minerals, as their name implies, are minerals that are critical to the national and economic security of the United States. They are found in the car you drive, the cell phone you scroll through, wind turbines and solar panels generating electricity and the television giving you a weather forecast and the news each morning. But their extraction and production comes with impacts. The result of a mine established in the wrong place, or done in the wrong way, can impair fish and wildlife habitat, hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation opportunity, and local businesses dependent on healthy public lands

Unfortunately, half of the known critical mineral deposits in the U.S. are within trout and salmon habitat, and one in ten deposits are in protected public land areas like wilderness, Forest Service roadless areas and wilderness study areas. Many other critical mineral deposits overlap with sensitive sage grouse habitat and big game migration corridors. While developing more critical minerals domestically – thus reducing our dependence on vulnerable supply chains – is important to our future, we cannot put at risk some of the country’s most pristine natural areas in the process.

The report provides 12 tenets for responsible critical mineral development from a conservation perspective. These tenets include avoiding and minimizing critical mineral development impacts to important fish and wildlife habitat, including focusing operations on landscapes that already have established infrastructure, and encouraging federal and state policies that support responsible critical minerals mining and avoid impacts to special places, recreational assets and high-quality fish and wildlife habitat.

Finally, the report highlights special places with critical mineral overlap. These includes places like the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area in Minnesota - the nation’s most visited wilderness area, Colorado’s mineral belt – a headwaters state supplying water to 17 downstream states and millions of people, and Central Idaho – home to one of the longest salmon runs in the world and multiple big game migration routes.

NDA and QDMA list state and federal land management as one of our key focus areas. Certainly, critical mineral mining on our public lands, or in manners that impact our public lands, falls squarely in this focus area. “While we’re aware that developing critical minerals domestically is important and necessary for our national economy and security, we cannot do so while turning a blind eye to wildlife and wild places,” said Torin Miller, NDA’s policy and outreach coordinator. “The report we recently joined in sending to Congress provides some excellent ideas for the inclusion of sportsmen and women in the critical mineral mining process, and we’re looking forward to working with our nation’s lawmakers to establish creative solutions for protecting the special places where we hunt and fish.”