Delegation returns ‘hopeful’ after trip to D.C. on behalf of Hecla mines

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Community representatives from Lincoln County that went to Washington, D.C. July 25 to ask federal agencies to approve the evaluation phase of Hecla Mining Company’s Montanore “were pleased with the meetings” they had with officials, a news release states.

“We went to D.C. to drive home the need to staff those agencies so their work can be accomplished and the projects can move forward in months and not years,” Lincoln County Commissioner Jerry Bennett states.

The delegation — Bennett, along with Libby Public Schools Superintendent Craig Barringer, Lincoln County Commissioner Jerry Bennett, Sanders County Commissioner Carol Brooker, Kootenai River Development Council Executive Director Tina Oliphant, W. F. Morrison Elementary Principal Diane Rewerts, and President Bruce Vincent of Environomics in Libby — met with the Department of Interior, Department of Agriculture, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Forest Service and Montana’s federal delegation.

“Our message was one of urgency in getting personnel in place within the Forest Service and Fish and Wildlife in order to complete the work needed to respond to Judge Molloy’s rulings concerning the Rock Creek Mine and the Montanore Mine,” Rewerts states.

According to the news release, the delegation “underscored the importance of both of these projects to our families, our schools, our businesses and our local governments” at each of its meetings with officials.

“The reception we received at each of our agency meetings was very positive,” Vincent states. “When the human resources needed were outlined to the agencies, we were given assurances that meeting those staffing needs can and would be accomplished.”

According to Barringer, the delegation left Washington D.C. “with a great deal more hope than we arrived with.”

The delegation will discuss its visit at the Libby Area Chamber of Commerce lunch on Aug. 9 and from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. that evening in the Fjord Room at the Venture Inn.

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