All that glitters...

  A citizens' group in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., is trying to drum up opposition to a proposed open-pit gold mine a few miles from town. Royal Gold Inc. has been conducting exploratory drilling on Forest Service land, and a full-scale operation may begin once the price of gold increases. Resident Bill McNeill, who founded the new group, the Mono County Mining Committee, says the mine threatens wilderness values and the area's tourism-based economy. Nearby Yosemite National Park and the Mammoth Mountain ski area draw year-round visitors to Mammoth Lakes. Although the group hopes to change mining policy in the entire county, says McNeill, "our primary goal is to be certain that this particular mine does not happen." The committee has received formal support from the local tourism commission and chamber of commerce, but the miners have the advantage of the 1872 General Mining Law, which encourages mining on public land. A public meeting with the Mono County Board of Supervisors and the local planning commission is set for April 21, when the group will discuss the county's role in mining operations on federal lands. For further information about the group's activities, call Bill and Linda McNeill at 760/934-4141, send e-mail to rwmcn@qnet.com or write to P.O. Box 100, Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546.