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Mining option for Alaska's White Mountains causes concern

Alaska Dispatch

A portion of White Mountains National Recreation Area, a haven for outdoor enthusiasts near Fairbanks in Alaska's Interior, may be attracting new mining attention, and the possibility is causing new concerns, according to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

The Fairbanks division of the Bureau of Land Management released a new alternative as a supplement to the Eastern Interior Draft Resource Management Plan, first presented by BLM last March, which would allow for mining on approximately 16 percent of the recreation area.

The News-Miner reports that the mining option "would allow leasing on 149,000 acres with medium and high potential for placer gold deposits and 11,000 acres with the rare-earth elements lanthanum, praseodymium, cerium and neodymium."

In the past, the White Mountains Rec Area was the site of active gold mining, and some are worried that reopening the area to mining may interfere with its recovery process and negatively affect the environment. Others are more focused on the valuable resources and economic implications.

Whatever the opinion, all comments on the plans are due by April 11, 2013. BLM plans to hold a series of meetings sometime in February, but the new land management plan isn't expected to be implemented until 2014.

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