Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Red Mountain Buckwheat

A while back, while we were talking about Spy Rock and Iron Peak, Ross Sherburn asked if we were going to talk about Red Mountain. That peaked my interest. (The literary among you are now groaning, but I could resist, the rest are saying, huh?)

There are as many “Red Mountains” as there are Salmon Creeks, or Bear creeks. It’s a very common name, but I’m sure that the one that Ross is referring to is the mountain in Northern Mendocino County, down there by Christina, the mountain that had the big fire on it last year, during the lightning series of 2008.

It seems like every mountain on the north coast is distinguished by something. Iron peak is a huge manganese deposit. Red mountain is one of the largest and tastiest deposits of Nickel and Chromium in the United States. They would have started mining it years ago, I think that the big push to mine it was in the eighties, but the environmentalists got it stopped.

The mining operation would have been a huge open pit mine similar to the Kennecott Copper mine in Utah. The thought of all the huge machines tickled me and part of me wanted to see it happen. Imagine huge machines right here in the Eel River. But, wait a minute. Hugh machines in the Eel River? I have to admit, that kinda’ scared me.

The mining companies made many assurances that there would be no environmental damage. That they would collect all of the water that came off of the tailings, and they would treat it somehow. I’m not sure what they were going to do to treat the water, but I couldn’t help but start thinking about the 1964 flood, where a good percentage of the water and snowmelt that caused the Eel River flood, came right off Red Mountain. I just wasn’t sure those city boys had seen a good old Eel River storm.

About the time that they got real heavy into planning to mine Red Mountain, they found a unique plant that only grows there. Yep, just to make sure that everybody knew that this plant was unique, they named it the Red Mountain Buckwheat. Well that plant alone stopped everything, but that didn’t stop the Enviros, they “found” several more plants, and that stopped any thoughts of mining Red Mountain. Poof, there went my big machines.

I liked the fact that I wouldn’t have to worry about our beautiful canyon though, because just between you and me I don’t trust big mining companies, and what can we do if they do screw up our canyon. We might loose our fish. Back then we had Salmon, now the only thing that we would lose would be Squaw Fish. Maybe we should mine it now.

Anyway, the Red Mountain Buckwheat is a plant that grows well on open ground, with poor soil of serpentine base. I would not be surprised if Ben and Kym have some up on their mountain in Salmon Creek. The oaks and Manzanita have been choking the buckwheat out lately, but the recent fires must have solved that problem.

Red Mountain is a very large, slightly rounded on top mountain, that really lends itself well to mining. The railroad is right below it. The industry would have changed the economic structure of the north coast dramatically.

So, there’s your mountain Ross.
(Some More reading)


ben said...

Incense Cedar likes serpentine soil. It grows in Salmon Creek, Red Mountain and the Lassiks. The Lassiks is a botanical preserve and one of the most interesting and beautiful areas around. I've never made it to Red Mountain and I don't think I've ever seen Re Mountain Buckwheat.

ross sherburn said...

thank you sir,very much!but could you have robin take a picture from a distance???LOL

Ernie Branscomb said...


According to the EPA's TRI, in 2001 a Kennecott facility in Copperton, Utah was the largest toxic releaser in the US- for the third year in a row- releasing 695,929,704 pounds of toxic chemicals to the environment. This is over 263 million pounds more than the second largest toxic releaser.

EPA TRI figures also show that, in 2001, Kennecott: owned and operated the 1st, 13th and 19th largest toxic releasing facilities of all 24,896 reporting facilities in the US released 54 tons of cyanide from its Salt Lake County facilities, 23 tons more cyanide than it released in 2000. released 99.8% of all toxic chemicals released in Salt Lake County, the largest toxic releasing county in the country released 95.2% of all toxic chemicals released in Utah, the second largest toxic releasing state in the country released from its Salt Lake County facilities 8.1% of all arsenic compounds released overall by the 24,896 reporting facilities in the US. Arsenic is a known carcinogen. released from its Salt Lake County facilities 22.3% of all lead compounds released overall by the 24,896 reporting facilities in the US. Lead can affect almost every organ and system in the human body, including kidneys and the reproductive system. The most sensitive is the central nervous system, particularly in children.

"It's absolutely outrageous that Kennecott would use social reporting to portray its massive toxic releases in a positive light," said Diane Heminway, Environmental Projects Coordinator for the United Steelworkers of America. "These kinds of antics are what make many people cynical about corporate commitment to social responsibility in general."

Heminway went on to describe specific claims made by Kennecott in its social and environmental reporting as "half-truths, if not downright deceptions," including:

Kennecott's "Social and Environment Report" released in 2002 includes a section titled "Selenium Discharge Reduced by Eighty Percent," referring to Kennecott's reduced selenium discharges from its facilities in Salt Lake County to a water body in Utah. However, while Kennecott did reduce these discharges by 1,419 pounds, its overall selenium discharges from its Salt Lake County facilities increased by 7,735 pounds. In the recent Kennecott mailing "Kennecott Expects Significant Drop in Future TRI Numbers," Kennecott claims that its smelter is the world's cleanest. The 2001 TRI figures list Kennecott's smelter and refinery as the19th largest toxic releaser in the US. In the same mailing, Kennecott notes that lead and arsenic air emissions from its smelter in 2001 will be lower than those in 2000. While this is true, the mailing overlooks that, for another Kennecott facility in Salt Lake County, arsenic releases increased by over nine million pounds and lead releases increased by over 33 million pounds from 2000 to 2001.

ben said...

Yikes, Ernie.... Good research! Thank heaven they dropped the Red Mountain project.

ross sherburn said...

think there was some timber harvesting going on in this area,back in the day???

Robin Shelley said...

Ernie, tell MISTER Sherburn that if he looks at my picture in which Iron Peak just happens to appear, straight up from the red roofed building almost to the very top of the rock that is Iron Peak way off in the distance, he will see a whole field of this Red Mountain Buckwheat ya'll are talking about here.

ross sherburn said...

robin,great picture of iron peak!i was wanting one of red mountain from a distance.probably taken from the bell springs road.i was through there several years ago,but didn't take any pics.that country up there is just beautiful!!!

Robin Shelley said...

That's more like it, Mr. Sherburn. Heh.
Sorry, no pictures of Red Mountain except maybe in some old L'ville newspapers from waaaaaay back in the '80s when mining the thing was being considered.
You're right... the whole Bell Springs/Spy Rock area is very beautiful country.
Nice to meet you, by the way.

ross sherburn said...

thanks robin,i'm not here to make anyone mad!guess i need to clarify myself more in the future.nice to meet you also.i am originally from laytonville/garberville area,so i like ernies blog very much!

Robin Shelley said...

Oh, you didn't make me mad, Mr. Sherburn... I'm just teasing you.
Now... you say you are originally from Laytonville. Do I know you already? I moved from there two years ago after having lived there 50 years. I like Ernie's blog very much, too.

ross sherburn said...

robin,i will tell you more later!our computer at home crashed yesterday,so i'm on the one at my work,which i have limited access to.hopefully i'll be back in a couple of days.cheers,ross

Anonymous said...

Ross, I think I mentioned this once before. When I was young, Shine Sherburn was a household word. You should be proud. I always heard good things about your dad.


Anonymous said...

This clears up a question for me that I have carried for twenty years. When I first moved into Piercey twenty years ago I heard rumors of blocking a mine on Red Mountain, but I never got the story straight til now. Whatever enviros blocked such a potentially big project sure didn't toot their horn much. Haven't found an article on it yet on the net.

ross sherburn said...

oregon,thanks for the kind words about my father!i will respond more after we get our home computer repaired.