Alliance to Protect Medicine Lake Highlands & Aquifer

About the Medicine Lake Highlands:

Medicine Lake Highlands is a tribal landscape located northeast of Mount Shasta in the mountains of northern California, and centered on the sacred Medicine Lake. The Pit River, Modoc, Shasta, Karuk and Wintu tribes revere the area for its natural healing energy and for its connections to their tribes’ histories. For example, the Pit River Tribe believes that the Creator and his son bathed in Medicine Lake after they created the earth, and the Creator imparted his spirit to the waters. Because of the lake’s sacredness, tribes from the coast of California to the Rocky Mountains use the surrounding area as a training ground for medicine men.

Medicine Lake Highlands is also a source of geothermal energy, sought after by companies that have applied for development permits from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), which manage the area. In the mid-1980s, three corporations bought geothermal energy development leases in the area from the BLM, without tribal consultation. All but one of the leases expired by 1998, with no development having occurred. However, the BLM and USFS renewed the leases for the next 40 years and then conducted an environmental impact statement (EIS) to determine what the effects of geothermal development might have on the area. The EIS concluded that development would have “adverse impacts.”

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