Why Is Identifying Mining Operations and Mineral Deposits Important to the WLCI?
Southwest Wyoming is rich in mineral resources, notably trona, uranium and phosphate. Base and precious mineral deposits are also found here. Mining products are among the top exports for the state of Wyoming and vital components of the economy. Mining activities and supporting infrastructure, however, can affect wildlife and ecosystems through habitat loss, water quality degradation, and contamination of soil and water with toxic metals. Understanding the extent of mineralization and historic mining activity allows us to predict the likelihood of continued or future mining development and its associated effects. Planners and decisionmakers can use this information to direct development to benefit all stakeholders as well as providing for sustainable wildlife habitat and water quality. There was a lack of up-to-date information on mineral resources in the WLCI region at the beginning of the WLCI. Geologists from the USGS Central Mineral and Environmental Resources Center conducted an assessment of mineral resources in the WLCI region. This information is being used to create maps and predictive models for use in planning resource extraction while reducing risk to wildlife and water quality.