The Salmon National Forest administers 1,776,994 net acres of mountainous terrain located in east-central Idaho. Most of the Forest is in Lemhi County; only a small portion falls within Idaho and Valley Counties. Approximately 426,114 acres of the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness extends into the western part of the Forest and mineral entry is severely restricted. Because of its location within the Salmon River drainage, the Forest also is subject to numerous issues surrounding restoration of anadromous fish runs.
Mineral production from the Salmon National Forest began during 1866 when placer gold was discovered in Leesburg Basin. Hardrock mining quickly spread throughout the Forest and many deposits containing a wide range of commodities were discovered and developed. Although early records are sketchy, production is estimated to include 940,000 ounces gold, 654,000 ounces silver, 61.9 million pounds copper, 8.9 million pounds lead, 13.9 million pounds cobalt, 208,000 pounds zinc, and 37,000 tons fluorite mill feed.
Mineral resources are large, diverse, and occur in many deposit types including exhalative, stockwork, disseminated, vein, replacement, sedimentary, skarn, breccia pipe, porphyry, and placer. The largest cobalt resource in the United States occurs in the Blackbird Mining District. Other resources include gold, silver, copper, lead, molybdenum, phosphate, manganese, iron, fluorite, uranium, thorium, rare earth oxides, and barite.
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
Mineral resource appraisal of the Salmon National Forest, Idaho
U.S. Geological Survey
Geology, Minerals, Energy and Geophysics Science Center