1.2-million Ways to Celebrate the Environment

In August, Agrium started work on the Rasmussen Valley Mine in southeast Idaho. This was excellent news for the economy in the area – but the beginning of the project also triggered an initiative worth $1.2 million to benefit the local environment. 

An Idaho-based nonprofit conservation organization called Sagebrush Steppe Land Trust (SSLT) will administer the funds, and an independent group called the Habitat Improvement Team (HIT) has been established to distribute them. Members of the public are invited to submit applications to this team, in order to receive funding for projects that contribute to the sustainability of wildlife resources and productive habitat in southeast Idaho. The SSLT website will soon post information on application and project eligibility.

“We’re very proud of this project,” says Jon Goode, Manager for Special Projects with Agrium in Idaho. “Not only is the funding going to provide opportunities for wildlife and habitat improvement in the area, but this project represents an exciting and unique collaboration between industry, government and environmental groups. We and our partners hope it becomes precedent-setting because the collaboration has already yielded better results than if we had worked separately.”

Lance Brady of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) echoes this sentiment and adds, “Agrium’s donation to the Sagebrush Steppe Land Trust shows its commitment to being a good neighbor—to being a part of a community, really.  On one level, this is about helping with important habitat work, but it’s also about jobs, about working landscapes and about how Idaho residents traditionally use this part of the state.”

In addition to the SSLT project, as mitigation for temporarily impacting approximately 111 acres on the Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s Blackfoot River Wildlife Management Area (WMA), Agrium will also pay $432,000, open up over 2,000 acres of land through the Access Yes! Program, for public use, including nearly two miles of Blackfoot River frontage and some prime elk habitat, and transfer ownership of over 160 acres of land bordering the WMA.

The initiatives are a good example of how mining today is different than it was in the past. Today, various public organizations, mining and environmental experts, as well as government agencies, help to ensure that every step of the process considers the future impacts – and works to mitigate them. The Rasmussen Valley Mine will also maintain 500 jobs and generate $260-million in economic impact, including $50-million in direct wages and benefits and multiple millions in state and local taxes.