The U.S. Forest Service has approved a gold mining company's plan to reopen a 4-mile road in a central Idaho wilderness and drill core samples to find out if two of its claims are profitable enough to be mined.
The federal agency in a statement Tuesday says Payette National Forest Supervisor Keith Lannom approved American Independence Mines and Minerals Co.'s plan in the Frank Church River Of No Return Wilderness.
The plan authorizes the company to make 571 motorized trips annually into the wilderness area to build 11 drill pads. Vehicles would include four-wheel-drive pickups, a dump truck, a flatbed truck, a bulldozer and a small excavator.
The Forest Service says mining is allowed in the wilderness as mining laws and mining in the area predate wilderness designation.