Rare earth minerals mining area reclamation at Big Meadow

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One of the major deposits of critical rare earth elements in the United States is here at the top of Bear Valley Creek at Big Meadow.

It was dredge mined in the 1950s and abandoned, leaving a big mess contributing sediment for many years into Idaho's prime Wilderness river, the Middle Fork of the Salmon. Bear Valley Creek is one of its two headwater streams.

The photo shows "reclaimed," dredge ponds at left. In June they are grassed over with sedges, rushes, willow and grass. China produces 97% of the world's rare earth mineral supply. If this area is reopened, will they bother to do a better job this time?

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Comments (2)

ags83642 on July 2, 2013

Hi Ralph, I didn't know that Bear Valley had been a mining area. Thanks for the info. Nice to see you over in my neck of the woods. Best Wishes, Greg. Bear Valley Creek

Ralph Maughan on July 3, 2013


Yes I was at Big Meadow and Whitehawk Mtn. June 27-8. It froze that night. I drove back to Pocatello where it was 97 degrees.

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on July 2, 2013
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by Ralph Maughan
    • Taken on 2013/06/27 17:41:01
    • Exposure: 0.005s (1/200)
    • Focal Length: 38.00mm
    • F/Stop: f/14.000
    • ISO Speed: ISO200
    • Exposure Bias: 0.00 EV
    • No flash