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Canadian mining company stakes more claims on the edge of America’s first Wilderness

June 29, 2023
Leia Barnett, WildEarth Guardians, (970) 406-2125, lbarnett@wildearthguardians.org
In This Release
Public Lands   Gila Trout, Mexican gray wolf, Mexican spotted owl
#EndangeredSpeciesAct, #ForceForNature, #GreaterGila, #PressStatement, #ProtectWhatYouLove, #WildlandsForWildlife
MOGOLLON, N.M.Canadian mining company Summa Silver Corporation published a news release in June 2023 touting its recently secured 3,985 acre package of mining claims at its Mogollon Project site near Silver City, New Mexico. Mogollon sits in the heart of the Greater Gila region, and the new claims represent a project area increase of over 100%, bringing Summa’s contiguously-owned mineral rights to 7,730 acres. This area includes lands where threatened Mexican spotted owl and Gila trout have been documented, and it spans four important watersheds, two of which are proposed for listing under the M.H. Dutch Salmon Greater Gila Wild & Scenic bill. 

Beyond the immense potential ecological impacts posed by Summa’s activity, there are irrevocable cultural assets at threat from their activities. Summa Silver’s exploratory drilling operations continue to occur on the traditional homelands of the Warm Springs Chiricahua Apache. 

“The Creator, Yusen, charged the Chiricahua people with stewarding the land, the air, the water, the plants, the animals, and the spirits in what is now called the Greater Gila region. This is our reason for being,” said Bill Tooahyaysay Bradford, Ikegee Nant’an (Vice Chief) and Beh Goz Ani (Attorney General) for the Chiricahua Apache Nation. “The site where Summa Silver seeks to mine is sacred to the Chiricahua as the place where Yusen divided the night and the day as a gift to humans and animals. We commemorate this through the Moccasin Dance and the Moccasin Game. Our obligation to Yusen is to resist any attempts to damage or destroy this sacred place. We, the Chiricahua Apache Nation, hope for the opportunity to share the importance of this place with Summa Silver and to encourage them to cease their efforts to mine not only in Mogollon but within the Greater Gila region.” 

Summa Silver’s exploratory drilling operations are taking place just a few miles from the boundary of the Gila Wilderness, this country’s first, designated almost 100 years ago through the efforts of the visionary conservationist Aldo Leopold. The Greater Gila region is known for its exceptional biodiversity, hosting more species of birds and mammals than any other region in the Southwest, including the only population of Mexican gray wolves. The Greater Gila is home to over 200 rare plant and animal species, with over 30 listed as threatened or endangered. 

“As we’re planning the celebration and commemoration of the 100th birthday of the Gila Wilderness, I can’t really think of a worse gift to bestow on its doorstep than more mining,” said WildEarth Guardians’ Greater Gila New Mexico Advocate Leia Barnett. “The Gila inspired a new vision for land management 100 years ago. We need our state and federal agencies to do something similarly transformative that durably safeguards these sacred sites and important ecosystems now.”

Looking out over the old mining tailings pile in Mogollon, NM. Photo: Leia Barnett

Looking out over the old mining tailings pile in Mogollon, NM. Photo: Leia Barnett


WildEarth Guardians is a conservation nonprofit whose mission is to protect and restore the wildlife, wild places, wild rivers, and health of the American West. Guardians has offices in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington, and over 189,000 members and supporters worldwide.