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A recently formed conservation program is now taking proposals for projects to benefit the upper Salmon River basin this year.

The Upper Salmon Conservation Action Program, a partnership of the Jervois Mining USA and the Idaho Conservation League, will be taking proposals for projects during the month of April. The program has $150,000 funded by Jervois’ Idaho Cobalt Operation. The mine plans to fund the program at least that amount each year it is in operation.

The cobalt mine is located about 25 miles west of Salmon. The mine is expected to operate for seven years and mostly produce cobalt and copper, employing several hundred people.

“This innovative and voluntary partnership will fund projects to protect and restore fish, water quality, wildlife habitat, and biodiversity within the Upper Salmon River basin, where Jervois’ Idaho Cobalt Operations are located,” Jervois said in a news release.

Theresa Hughes, environmental specialist at Jervois Mining, said the new program is separate from and unrelated to the mitigation measures and other regulatory requirements connected to the mine. She said the new conservation program hopes to attract input from local stakeholders.

“One of the key parts of this program that we see is critical for having a successful program is community engagement,” Hughes said. “We want to communicate with Lemhi County, Custer County residents, the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe, the Nez Perce Tribe, the local conservation groups, local environmental groups, everyone who has an interest in conservation-related work in this area. We want to get their input on what the priorities need to be.”

For more information, guidelines and a proposal application, email uppersalmoncap@gmail.com.

“All of the funds, which will be held in a dedicated account by Jervois, will be put towards on-the-ground projects,” the Idaho Conservation League said. “The projects may involve activities such as removing barriers to fish passage, improving spawning habitat for salmon and steelhead, and restoring surrounding streamside habitat.”