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?